NAPLES — Pets were parading through paradise at the third annual Pets on Third in Naples on Sunday.
More than 100 pets participated in the parade and costume contest along Third Street South to benefit the city of Naples Dog Park, which is to open in February in the city government complex on Goodlette-Frank Road and Central Avenue.
The theme, pets in paradise, sparked instant creativity for the costumed artist Jacquee Krause, who contributed a painted retired city of Naples fire hydrant that will be auctioned at an event yet to be scheduled in the spring.
“They said ‘paradise’ and so right away I thought ‘cheeseburger in paradise,’” she said, referring to a Jimmy Buffet song.
Krause and her boyfriend Corey Cabral and their 8-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Captain strolled down Third Street South, each wearing Caribbean-style clothing and sunglasses. Captain sat on a surfboard while being toted along in a wagon.
Krause wasn’t alone in her Buffet train of thought.
Among the pets and owners streaming by were a herd of cattle, or at least humans and dogs dressed like cows, Pittsburgh Steeler fans covered in black and yellow gear, doggy shoppers donning miniature versions of downtown shopping bags, Red Hat Ladies and Hawaiian-shirted tourists with fur and without fur.
Judy East and her miniature Dachshund named Lucy, 6, wore the red hats and purple clothes of the Red Hat Society social group.
“We always look alike because of our long noses and short hair,” East joked.
The cows were another take on the Cheeseburgers in Paradise idea and the costumes were handmade by Jay Miller, owner of Jay’s Fabrics in Naples. Miller said he was new to dressing up his pets, but he instantly rose to the top as winner of the most original costume along with his son Zachary, 9, and dogs Brody, a 3-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever, and Poncho, a 9-year-old Chihuahua.
Naples Mayor Bill Barnett was among the judges, who decided to give add an honorable mention to each of the four winning categories because there were so many great costumes, said event organizer Jody Rosenbaum.
A mention of the dog park’s opening in about four weeks made by its designer Matthew Kragh got the crowd cheering.
“If it weren’t for Matt Kragh, we wouldn’t have a dog park,” Barnett said.
The dog park cost about $250,000, which was raised entirely by donations. If donations and fundraisers, such as Pets on Third, continue with the same level of success, not only will tax dollars not be used for the park’s operational costs, but a user fee won’t be needed, said Dave Lykins, director of the city’s community services department.
Winners received treats such as stays at the Wiggle Butt Inn for pets and pet portraits by artist Michele Kortbawi Wilk, who also painted one of the four fire hydrants.