The Mystics of Solomon Park Pet and Kids Parade started with a group of women who wanted to put on a fun event in the Garden District as part of the local Mardi Gras celebrations.
That was five years ago, and the parade is not only still going strong, but it’s pretty darn cute.
“The kids are like little celebrities when they walk in the parade,” said Claudia Hall, one of the event’s organizers. “Everybody’s cheering for them and waving at them, and they’re throwing out their candy or their beads. They have their moment in the sun, so it’s really, really cute.”
On Saturday, Feb. 1, Solomon Park in Dothan will be filled with pets in costumes, children in wagons and older kids in box floats.
Inside the fenced area of Solomon Park, there will be craft activities offered by the Wiregrass Museum of Art and the Cultural Arts Center as well as face painting, Lucky Dog training center from Ashford, and a “furssage” station for pets. David’s Performance Factory will also lead a kids activity.
There will be food trucks and food vendors and the local library bookmobile will set up on one side of the park, which is bordered by Choctaw Street, Redwood and Hazelwood avenues, and Forest Drive. High Wired Coffee will be there early serving coffee, and food vendors will include Ernie’s, Peckham’s, Stix & Cones, and a local Girl Scout troop selling cookies. The city of Dothan will have a firetruck on hand and a K-9 officer.
Activities will begin at 10:30 a.m., as will parade registration.
The parade itself travels down one side of Solomon Park and kicks off with the kid portion at noon featuring the Mystics, kids ages 1-6, in decorated wagon floats and the Mischiefs, kids ages 7-9, in decorated box floats. Immediately after parade, the pets get their turn. Pet costume awards are given out after the parade.
There’s no charge for children to participate — they just have to be costumed and decorated — but there is a $10 registration for pets to participate. The proceeds go to the Wiregrass Humane Society.
A few weeks from now on Feb. 22, the Krewe of Kolosse Mardi Gras Parade will wind through the Garden District and other neighborhoods on its way to downtown Dothan. Of course, the kid-and-pet parade doesn’t travel nearly as far — the length of Solomon Park and back is about as far as some parade participants will tolerate.
“Last year, we had 48 dogs — or 48 pets — and we had 35 children that were in the parade,” Hall said. “When you have children, you have parents, you have grandparents, you have siblings, and so the crowd has grown every year as the parade has grown.”