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Getting to know…The Canal Days Pet Parade Chair PDF Print E-mail
Monday, July 22, 2013 11:17 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS—Don’t be surprised to see a variety of unusual pets—reptiles, pigs, goats, rabbits—and not so unusual pets, dressed in costumes and their pet parents roaming the streets of downtown Delphos during the 2013 Canal Days Celebration.

Pet Parade chair Rick Vonderwell has been involved with the Canal Days festivities for 10 years. After opening his kennel, Vonderwell was approached by Karen Grothouse, the previous coordinator of the kids’ events, who asked if he would be interested in taking on the event. At that time, the Pet Parade had a new sponsor every year and he decided to help with the setup and take down for the event.

“Volunteering for Canal Days each year is a great way to support the community,” Vonderwell reflected. “At some point you need to contribute to the whole of the group, it can’t always be take, take, take. It is my friends, family and neighbors that get to enjoy it.”

Planning for the next year’s event starts almost as soon as the current year’s Canal Days celebration is over. There are meetings throughout the year to make sure everyone is on the same page. Event Coordinator Dianne Sterling begins scheduling and coordinating people, places, times and equipment.

“Everyone involved knows their part and each year it all comes together,” Vonderwell stated.

Bob Ulm runs the PA (public announcement) system and the Canal Days Queen contestants do the judging. Vonderwell puts together goody bags, which he hands out to the kids and has the certificates of participation made. “It’s the only time of year that I’m allowed in public with a microphone,” Vonderwell said jokingly.

Vonderwell said the community support from local businesses is what makes the entire event possible.

Each year, Pet Parade ‘headquarters’ is located on the second street stage in front of the Rustic. There is no preregistration for the event and each year, it is a guess on how many and who will show up.

“We usually have around 40-45 participants and their pets,” Vonderwell said. “I think our busiest year was 58 pets and owners.”

The Queen and her court judge and hand out prizes each year. The categories for this year are Best Dog, Best Cat, Best Other, Best Dressed, Best Pet Trick and Best of Show, which is open to everyone.

Vonderwell said his favorite part of Canal Days festivities is the Pet Parade itself and not just because he helps with it. “Some of the kids spend a great deal of time with their pets leading up to the parade. Be it the time on teaching a new trick or some of the elaborate costumes. Any time you mix little kids and their pets you are guaranteed to be entertained,” Vonderwell said excitedly. “It is always fun for me.”

Vonderwell says he still laughs about the first year and he reflected on a particularly funny situation during the Pet Parade. “Anyone that doesn’t think their kids listen in public, I will argue with,” Vonderwell stated with a grin. “We announced that someone’s dog had pooped in front of the stage and nobody had a shovel (my fault). Every kid heard me the first time, and the parade continued with the kids walking around the mess like ants in formation.”

Last Updated on Monday, July 22, 2013 11:37 PM

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