Bend’s Pet Parade: Then and Now | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Bend’s Pet Parade: Then and Now

Historical looks at this designated Oregon Heritage Tradition

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To say that Bend’s Fourth of July Pet Parade has “gone to the dogs” would cast shade on all the other animals in attendance. Since 1924, minus a few years due to WWII (1943) or COVID-19 (2020-2021), dogs have dominated the parade. But over nearly 100 years, participants have also included chickens, goats, goldfish, mule deer fawns, guinea pigs, llamas, cattle, horses, and even June bugs. According to the Bend Bulletin, in 1932, “cross dogs and rattlesnakes” were barred from attending – which makes you wonder if the rattlesnake was on a leash!

Over the years, fringe pets were eventually phased out of the Pet Parade; now, dogs pretty much rule the event. - DAMIAN FAGAN
  • Damian Fagan
  • Over the years, fringe pets were eventually phased out of the Pet Parade; now, dogs pretty much rule the event.

In the early years, the parade was part of a three-day Fourth of July celebration that included baseball games, a rodeo, saw-bucking contests, boxing matches, dances, chicken-chasing contests, and more. The Pet Parade was mostly for kids, and winners were selected based on their costumes or their animals. In 1932, Louise Stacy, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, rode in a wagon pulled along the route. She won first prize for her costume, even though one judge argued she should be disqualified for chewing gum, stating that “The Statue of Liberty in New York harbor has never been known to chew gum.” Second place went to Elizabeth Beaver and Dorothy Carver, attendants to A.S. Ashford’s pet antelope and twin, week-old pet fawns, which, “…spotted and frightening, were in a baby buggy screened with wire netting.” 

Pet Parade; Fourth of July, 1948; Bend; Photo Art Camera Shop; #5; Children with pets and on tricycles in parade; one child has a shirt that reads "Mighty Mouse." - COURTESY  DESCHUTES COUNTY HISTORICAL
  • Courtesy Deschutes County Historical
  • Pet Parade; Fourth of July, 1948; Bend; Photo Art Camera Shop; #5; Children with pets and on tricycles in parade; one child has a shirt that reads "Mighty Mouse."

The 1933 parade down Wall Street from Greenwood was “not without incident.” Hilda Peterson’s balky lamb refused to keep pace with its group, but the lamb’s actions caught the attention of the judges who awarded her a prize. The Bend Bulletin staff writer noted, “A growling badger, owned by Louise Perry, worried nearby dogs…”

In 1936, the Bend Bulletin recounted, “Cats and dogs were in the line of march, but through the efforts of Tom W. Carlon, parade marshal, major fights were averted.” Several cats escaped their cages, creating chaos.

Pet Parade; Fourth of July, 1948; Bend; Photo Art Camera Shop; Three children on horses and children pullings wagons with farm animals; one child carrying shovel. - COURTESY  DESCHUTES COUNTY HISTORICAL
  • Courtesy Deschutes County Historical
  • Pet Parade; Fourth of July, 1948; Bend; Photo Art Camera Shop; Three children on horses and children pullings wagons with farm animals; one child carrying shovel.

Four young coyotes belonging to Don Torkelson caught everyone’s attention during the 1937 parade. Various foot races were held afterward with “A special prize awarded to 96-year-old Mrs. Mary Roy, who took part in the shoe scramble race for women.” (Perhaps the point in which the Roy family sports dynasty in Central Oregon begins?) 

During the 1939 parade, sponsored by the Twenty-Thirty club, Leroy Livingston’s dog won “the meanest looking” division.  

The power went out for the 1951 parade, which was otherwise unaffected by a rainstorm that “ended a 53-day drought.”

In 1958, the Jaycees were in charge of the June 28 Pet Parade that kicked off a week-long celebration culminating in the Water Pageant on Mirror Pond. The parade has not always been held on the Fourth of July, but close enough for kids and adults to dress up their animals or adorn their bikes, trikes, and wagons with patriotic colors.

Children with float at Pet Parade, Bend. July 3-4, 1934. The float was a group effort by the children in the neighborhood of Drake Road and Harmon Boulevard. The girl on the left (holding her pet cat) is Genevieve Armstrong. Her sister, Joyce Armstrong, is on the far right (with hand to cheek). Elma Ramlo is to her left (standing slightly behind Joyce). Jackie Lightfoot is standing behind the wagon (holding a hat). She did cartwheels beside the float the entire distance of the parade. - COURTESY  DESCHUTES COUNTY HISTORICAL
  • Courtesy Deschutes County Historical
  • Children with float at Pet Parade, Bend. July 3-4, 1934. The float was a group effort by the children in the neighborhood of Drake Road and Harmon Boulevard. The girl on the left (holding her pet cat) is Genevieve Armstrong. Her sister, Joyce Armstrong, is on the far right (with hand to cheek). Elma Ramlo is to her left (standing slightly behind Joyce). Jackie Lightfoot is standing behind the wagon (holding a hat). She did cartwheels beside the float the entire distance of the parade.

Throughout the years, thousands of viewers and participants have lined the downtown streets in Bend to enjoy this fun event. Originally, Bend Fire Department provided lemonade for the paradegoers, and this tradition continues with BPRD providing popsicles to all attendees. DogPac and the Deschutes County Humane Society also provide water for animals, as well as waste pickup. 

In 2014, the Oregon Heritage Commission recognized Bend’s Pet Parade as an Oregon Heritage Tradition. “It is a recognition granted to events that are more than 50 years old and are unique to their community,” said Vanessa Ivey, Deschutes Historical Museum manager. “The recognition’s purpose is to encourage tourism related to heritage resources.”

This year’s parade will start at Harmon Park at 10 a.m. and follow the route used for the Veteran’s Day Parade – Harmon Park to Newport Avenue, across the Deschutes River to Wall Street, and ending at Drake Park. Participants don’t need to register but should be lining up around 9 a.m. in various categories: Big Dogs, Little Dogs, Big Bikes, Wagons and Wheels, and Odds and Ends. “No rabbits, cats, or aggressive animals” will be allowed in the parade, according to Kim Johnson, BPRD community engagement supervisor for this year’s event. That’s a nicer way to say, “no cross dogs and rattlesnakes.”


Fourth of July Pet Parade
July 4, 10 a.m.
Harmon Park
bendparksandrec.org/activities/4th-of-july/
Free



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