Halloween Dog Parade Back on in Tompkins Square Park


The organization Good Lower East Side took on the Tompkins Square Halloween Parade when past organizers backed out due to an insurance issue. (Photo courtesy of Abby Turbenson)

By Abby Turbenson

It is tough not to smile at the sight of a dog. It is nearly impossible if the dog is in a costume. That’s why Lucky Bar in the East Village was frown-free for the afternoon of Oct. 20.

Costumed dogs and their creative owners gathered at Lucky, located just steps away from Tompkins Square Park, for the bar’s first ever “Halloween for Dogs” event.

With at least 15 dogs in costumes and many more spectators, the event was a great chance for dog-owners to connect, according to a self-proclaimed “dog mom.” She brought her Instagram-famous Chihuahuas Emma and Martha, dressed as a bee and a ladybug, respectively.

The Tompkins Square area is no stranger to hosting the city’s dogs. For nearly three decades, the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade has offered New York’s dog lovers the chance to showcase their pets in creative costumes.

But for much of the past few months, fans of the Halloween Parade have felt more tricked than treated.

Back in August, the parade’s Facebook page announced the cancellation of the 28th Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade. Initially, it seemed as if the insurance policy the city required was too expensive. But Garrett Rosso, manager of the Tompkins Square Dog Run and former organizer of the Halloween Parade, said otherwise.

“It’s not that the organizers couldn’t afford insurance. It was that the volunteers were going to be made liable for the event,” he said. “Liability was the problem.”

With no individual willing to be liable, organizers had to cancel the parade. However, if they could find a community-based organization to take on the liability, there was a chance it could still happen.

The organization Good Old Lower East Side stepped up to take on liability and save the parade, but not until the last minute.

On Oct. 18, two days before the original parade date, organizers announced the 2018 parade was back on. The date was pushed to Oct. 28, and the location changed to East River Park, a 40-minute walk south of Tompkins Square. Despite the changes, it retained its name, the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.

According to the new organizer, Ada Nieves, the move away from the parade’s titular park was an unfortunate necessity. Since the 2017 parade attracted over 20,000 attendees, the construction in the southeast corner of Tompkins Square made it too difficult to plan effective crowd control in such a limited time-frame.

While dog lovers were happy the parade was not cancelled, the new venue was a challenge, according to Rosso.

Lucky’s “Halloween for Dogs” helped dog owners forget about the drama and come together for a good time with their “good boys.”

Dianne Ferrer brought her three French Bulldogs. Last year Ferrer and her Frenchies won the parade’s official grand prize with their elaborate doggy double decker tour bus costume.

This year at Lucky’s, they delighted party-goers as Super-Dog, a Good Humor ice cream man and a furry fortune teller.

The “Halloween for Dogs” event, scheduled on the day the 2018 parade was supposed to take place, was something of a replacement for the cancelled parade.

After the parade’s revival, it became a chance for costumed dogs and their fans to gather on familiar turf.

“We are looking forward to the day that we can bring the Tompkins Square Halloween Parade back to Tompkins Square Park,” said Garrett Rosso.
As for this year, Lucky’s “Halloween for Dogs” brought an abundance of smiles to Tompkins Square.