Fort Greene Park Users and Pets Society (PUPS) is hosting its 15th annual Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest on Oct. 26 in Fort Greene Park. And the premise is simple – owners dress their pooches up and win prizes for creativity, cuteness and originality.
The event started in 1998 as a way to get community members to sign a petition to help keep off-leash rules legal in the park, according to Kath Hansen, the founder and organizer of PUPS. More than 100 pups now compete in the contest and at least 500 people come to watch the fun, she said. It’s the largest dog costume contest in Brooklyn, Hansen said, but second in size in New York City to the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade in Manhattan.
“Every year, it gets crazier,” Hansen said. People dress their pets in anything from very simple, store-bought costumes, to very elaborate team costumes in which dogs and their owners dress collaboratively.
“I dressed my dog up as Lady Gaga in a meat dress one year,” Hansen said.
She’s seen spray-painted canines, a pup that doubled as Olivia Newton John and another dressed as a Barclays Center replica. Last year’s winners were a family dressed up as the children’s story “Where the Wild Things Are.” One person also shows up with his pet pig each year, too, Hansen said.
Hansen encourages creativity and said the crazier, the better, adding that resourcefulness and inventiveness will take the top prizes. The event starts with registration at 11 a.m. at the top of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and the contest starts at noon sharp at the bottom of the monument steps.
“It goes really fast because dogs don’t stay in costume long,” Hansen said.
A $5 registration donation is suggested, but not required.
Rosie Perez is this year’s celebrity judge and many local vendors have donated the awards for “best costume.” This year’s event will also be held in conjunction with Fort Greene Park Conservancy’s Halloween Festival.
Hansen said PUPS is also looking for volunteers for the event. If you’re interested in hanging posters, helping out the day of the event or donating a prize, contact Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you’re gonna come out and dress your dog up, make a costume. Bring your A game,” Hansen said. “Get creative, but be safe.”