Sit. Stay. Roll over. OK, Fido, now lead the parade.
Sure, “lead the parade” is not your most typical dog command. But that’s what one lucky canine will get to do as part of the 2018 Rose Festival. The Oregon Humane Society was chosen as this year’s official charity for the festival, so they’re holding a contest to pick a canine grand marshal to lead the Grand Floral Parade on June 9. That’s right: a dog will lead one of the biggest parades in the city. And it could be yours.
If you believe your pup is grand marshal material, the first step is to fill out an application, available online now, and return it by May 14. Pet owners will make their pleas in categories like personality, presence, talent, and Portland representation—the last item an opportunity to testify about how your pooch best represents our city.
Laura Klink, a spokesperson for the Oregon Humane Society, says the judges are looking for creativity in the answers. “It’s a really fun and silly type of contest," she says. "So we want people to really take the time. Portland’s known for keeping it weird, so why not tie that into the application?”
The judges for the written applications will be representatives from the Oregon Humane Society, the Portland Rose Festival, LexiDog, and the Heathman Hotel. They will pick 20 finalists from all applications received, who will be notified by May 15. On May 23, from 6–9 p.m. at Heathman Hotel, the dogs will get a chance to compete in person.
“The dogs get to walk across the stage and strut their stuff to the crowd,” says Klink. Twice, actually. Once for the judges and audience to get to know them (while the emcee reads their qualities aloud), and again for the pup to show off a bit more. “With that second walk, people can choose to dress up their dog in a costume, perform a trick, or tell a special story about them,” Klink adds.
A panel of judges—including drag queen Poison Waters (who knows a thing or two about being fabulous), Mitch and Corey from KINK FM, and Kimberly Maus—will decide which of the 20 finalists make it to the five-dog canine court, which will include the grand marshal.
“We think all dogs are special,” says Klink. “It’s not a beauty pageant. This is meant to be a contest that celebrates that bond between people and their pets, and what their dog really means to them.”
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, however, and only the official grand marshal will be in the parade. The other members of the canine court will receive $500 in prize money, a gift basket, and the chance to do a meet-and-greet at the Rose Fest's CityFair.