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updated: 5/16/2018 1:43 PM

Pet parade returns to Elmhurst's Spring Road

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When you're planning a pet parade, Elmhurst veterinarian Dr. John DeVries will tell you, it's usually a good idea to expect the unexpected.

Like the time when somebody showed up in the city's Spring Road business district with a horse that left organizers with -- how to put this delicately? -- some unintended consequences.

But, hey, the occasional party pooper aside, that's part of the fun of the pet parade that returns Saturday, May 19, to Spring Road after a couple-year sabbatical triggered in 2015 by an outbreak of the canine flu.

Now, DeVries says, the decades-old tradition is getting a fresh start under new leadership from the Spring Road Business Association and the Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst.

Activities will start at 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot of The Silverado Grill, 447 S. Spring Road. The parade steps off at 1 p.m. from the parking lot and heads to the Illinois Prairie Path and back.

Dogs and cats are usually the stars of the show, but some folks carry cages with animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits and turtles -- giving new meaning to the story about the tortoise and the hare.

And, yes, some kids even carry stuffed animals or Beanie Babies which, it turns out, are easier to clean up after than Mr. Ed.

In addition to the parade, DeVries says, the celebration includes a moon jump and removable face tattoos for kids; a photographer who will take a portrait of your pet and place it on a button; appearances by the city's police dog and fire department mobile unit; and a pet tricks competition.

The latter is a particular favorite, DeVries says.

"Some of the tricks are intricate," he says.

Others are a little less so, like when a very proud kid stands in front of the judges and says, "My dog's going to sit."

The first 150 participants to register for this year's parade will receive a goody bag, and ribbons will be awarded for Most Obedient Pet, Best Groomed Pet, Best Dressed Pet, Oldest Pet and Most Original Pet Trick.

The event is free, but donations of both cash and nonperishable items are being accepted for the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry.

This is the first time the business association and the Kiwanis have worked together on the parade, and DeVries says he's excited about the alliance's new leadership and energy.

"It's a new age," he says. "It's kind of an experiment."

Proving, it would seem, that even old dog lovers can learn new tricks.

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