Dogs parade through Downtown Evanston in Dogtopia costume contest


Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer

One pup shows up to the event as a very fancy lady.

Kim Jao, Reporter

Thirteen dogs dressed in their spookiest costumes paraded in downtown Evanston’s Fountain Square Saturday for Dogtopia’s first-ever Halloween Pup Costume Competition. 

Dogtopia is downtown Evanston’s first dog daycare business, offering grooming and boarding services for the city’s furry friends. The Halloween Pup Costume Competition is its latest effort to engage with the local community and encourage a more dog-friendly Evanston. The event was planned in conjunction with Downtown Evanston’s trick-or-treat stroll, and so the square was filled with costumed community members, animal and human alike.

Laurel Hansen, Dogtopia’s pet-parent relationship manager, said promoting dog-friendly events is essential to the business’s brand.

“For us, it’s a way of being part of a community and creating more brand awareness for who we are,” Hansen said. “We really like to bring joy to all pet parents.”

Contest participants joined by putting their name on the sign-up sheet and then parading across a Halloween-decorated Fountain Square.

Evanston resident and Northwestern business administrator Rebecca Phend and her daughter Lily Phend judged the competition. Ratings were on a scale out of 17 and based on concept, presentation, owner collaboration and the costume’s relevance. 

Evanston resident Amanda DePalma’s spotted French bulldog Sid won this year’s competition in a makeshift spider costume. 

“I bought him some bat wings, but he was too big for them, so I took off the spider decoration on our house and I zip-tied it to his harness,” DePalma said. 

Another competition participant was Philip and Elizabeth Raymond’s corgi, Taffy, who dressed as Queen Elizabeth. The Raymonds, who have lived in Evanston for 25 years, describe the city as a place where it’s very easy for dogs to socialize. 

However, the couple wants Evanston to loosen the restrictions related to having dogs in restaurants. A July ordinance amended the City Code to allow dogs on the outdoor patios of restaurants, but not inside.

When Hansen moved to Evanston from Chicago two years ago, she was shocked at how unfriendly Evanston dog policies are. 

“I had to stay home with my dog a lot of the time, and this put a limit on how much I could leave the house,” Hansen said. “Skokie is pet-friendly, and so is Chicago. We’re literally surrounded by places that have pet-friendly patios. Evanston is a dog town, and so I think it’s very strange that it hasn’t been more open.” 

Hansen said Evanston’s dog restrictions make it difficult for pet owners to interact with the local businesses, harming the city economically. She said this is why the costume competition was a vital step toward making Evanston a more pet-friendly city. 

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said Dogtopia has the potential to play a major role in making Evanston more dog-friendly. 

“Dogtopia is one of (Evanston’s) newest businesses and they are very interested in collaborating with Downtown Evanston,” Coakley said. “It’s a great first step.”


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