Thanks to Lauren Christ of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak — Cynthia Moxley.
These two beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are Copper and Chewy. They belong to Young-Williams Animal Center board member Brittany Bailey, and they are ready for the parade with their purple, green and gold feather boas.
During Mardi Gras, parade goers can be heard declaring, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” – the Cajun French expression meaning “Let the good times roll!”
When the Mardi Growl parade hit the streets of downtown Knoxville earlier this month, it was more common to hear shouts to “roll over” as hundreds of canine parade-walkers marched down Gay Street.
The 7th Annual Mardi Growl Parade and Festival took place Saturday, March 1. Sunshine and comfortable spring-like weather welcomed hundreds of two-legged and four-legged East Tennesseans to the event.
Pet owners and their pups lined up at the PetSafe Downtown Dog Park to walk in the parade and compete in the costume contest, and animal lovers, families and their dogs lined the streets to cheer on the participants. Costume categories included Best Vol Spirit, Ugliest, Pet/Owner Look-alike, Best Dog Couple, Best Costume, Best Dog Pawk and Most Unique Mixed Breed/Mutt.
Mardi Growl was presented by the City of Knoxville, The Clayton Foundation and Friends of Young-Williams Animal Center, and event sponsors included WBIR-TV; B97.5; Merial’s HeartGuard Plus and FrontLine Plus; DeRoyal Industries; Hill’s Science Diet; Haslam 3 Foundation; Enrichment Federal Credit Union; Pinnacle Bank; Brittany and Whitfield Bailey; Young Williams Law Firm; Harper Fiat; Smart Bank; and Erie Insurance. Money raised from entry fees benefit Young-Williams Animal Center, the official animal shelter for Knoxville and Knox County.
The festival in Market Square following the parade featured pet-related product vendors; $10 microchips and $10 rabies vaccinations; animal welfare and rescue group booths; music; face painting and balloon animals; and more.
From Moxley Carmichael, I walked in the parade with my pups, Chloe and Pez, who were adopted from Young-Williams; account executive Natalie Lester walked with her Boykin Spaniel, Emma; and writer/editor Maria Cornelius attended with her dog, Scout.
Not only is Mardi Growl one of the most prominent fundraisers and awareness generators for Young-Williams Animal Center, it’s one of the cutest events Knoxville has to offer! Trust us, the photos the three of us took speak for themselves.
Charlie the dachshund gets ready to ride in style in his Mardi Gras-themed wagon.
Dr. Becky DeBolt, Young-Williams’ director of shelter medicine, rides with Henry, grand marshal of the Mardi Growl parade. Henry had two lifesaving surgeries made possible by the Harry and Carolyn Galbraith Animal Compassion Fund at Young-Williams and has now been adopted.
Gay Street was packed with people and pups walking in the Mardi Growl parade.
There were nearly as many canine onlookers enjoying the festivities as there were humans!
It’s no surprise that the “Best Vol Spirit” was a popular – and colorful – category in the costume competition.
Rocco was a big hit in the parade – and we’re not just talking about his size! His parents, Dan and Christy Richardson, say Rocco is available for appearances.
Little pup Layla veered off the parade route to visit with Elena, Thea and Mauve Tappan.
A jockey rode atop this dog in the parade.
Lisa and her greyhound Nikki are far out in their tie-dye costumes.
Ranger, a 4-month-old Australian Cattle Dog, was one of the youngest pups in the parade. This South Knoxville pooch seemed to be enjoying his first Mardi Growl.
Dylan Folmar wanted to join in the fun and dressed like one of the doggies. He and his mother, Sarah Folmar, enjoyed watching the parade.
Oak Ridge resident Tina Piquet entered the “Best Dog Couple” category with Maggie Mae the dragon and Moly the knight.
PetSafe’s Travis Vickery enjoyed the event with his dog, Bao.
Mechanicsville resident Paul Berry and Ribeye disguised as a ringmaster and lion. “He’s from Maine, and I’m not lyin’!” joked Berry.
Jessica Abrahanson and her dog, Bear, entered one of this year’s new competition categories: “Most Unique Mixed Breed/Mutt.” Bear is a corgi-dachshund mix.
Young-Williams Animal Center mascot Young Willie tried to find forever homes for some of his adoptable friends.
Maria Cornelius’ dog, Scout, is a rescued black lab mix. Here she is meeting another Mardi Growl participant.
Natalie Lester explored the booths in Market Square with Emma. (Photo credit: Jennie Huettel of Young-Williams Animal Center)
My dogs chose to sit on the steps of the Bill Lyons Pavillion at Market Square for a little people – and dog – watching. Here’s Pez. (Photo credit: Jennie Huettel of Young-Williams Animal Center)
Chloe uses her new vantage point to oversee all the other dogs at Mardi Growl. (Photo credit: Jennie Huettel of Young-Williams Animal Center)
And among all these pups was Sasha, the bravest rabbit ever. She was a cute addition to the Animal Emergency and Specialty Center booth in Market Square. Plan to hop on down to Mardi Growl next year!