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Dogs return to Gasparilla Children's Parade on Saturday

TAMPA

Expect a different sort of pirate Saturday when the Humane Society of Tampa Bay makes its way along the Gasparilla Children's Parade route.

The costume is typical. Striped shirts, colorful beads, raggedy bandanas.

It's the wagging tails, furry ears and four legs that will set them apart.

The Krewe of Argos, which features about 80 volunteers and 30 dogs, is one of more than 100 groups participating in the annual event. Held the weekend before the adult-oriented Gasparilla festivities, the Children's Parade is part of a daylong event that includes a bicycle safety rodeo, stroll for preschoolers, air invasion and fireworks.

Named after the faithful dog in Homer's Odyssey, the krewe was formed last year to help spread awareness of the Humane Society's work.

"It's such a great way to get our name out there," said Ornella Varchi, event coordinator for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. "It helps remind people we are here, that we have a lot of animals who need homes."

Most of the dogs featured in the parade belong to those walking them, but a handful will be available for adoption, Varchi said.

"We'll bring out some of the higher-energy dogs or ones little enough to carry," she said.

The parade route is about a mile and half long. The Humane Society plans to bring along a motor home with cages inside for any dogs that get tired of walking.

The Krewe of Argos won't be the only one with pets.

Southeastern Guide Dogs and Busch Gardens will have animals in the parade as well, said Maiken Stefany, event coordinator for EventFest, the company that puts on the parade.

"It's great when the animals are out there dressed up," Stefany said "They always get a rise out of the kids."

Don't expect to see cats participating.

"That would be the worst form of torture for a cat," Varchi said.

"Someone will be dressed in a cat costume instead."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401.

Events

. The Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with vendors and activities along Bayshore Boulevard from Bay to Bay to Watrous and Orleans avenues.

. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. check out the free Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Rodeo along Bayshore between Rome and Dakota avenues.

. The Preschooler's Stroll, for children 5 and under, is at 1:30 p.m. beginning at Bay to Bay Boulevard and ending at Howard.

. At 3 p.m., the Air Invasion features a precision parachute jump from the U.S. Special Operations jump team, the Para-Commandos.

. The parade runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m., beginning at Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards, proceeding north along Bayshore and ending at Watrous and Orleans avenues.

. The parade is followed by fireworks at 7 p.m.

For more information, including parking and reserved seats, go to

gasparillapiratefest.com.

Dogs return to Gasparilla Children's Parade on Saturday 01/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 2:33pm]
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