Dog lovers and their furry friends showed their canine pride recently at Monongahela’s eleventh annual Pooch Parade.

More than 50 dogs took part in the half-mile parade down Main Street, which began at Second Street and ended at Chess Park. According to Corrina Withrow, chairperson of the event, the Pooch Parade is becoming one of the most popular events in the Mon Valley and surrounding region.

“There’s no other event like the Pooch Parade in the Mon Valley,” said Withrow. “People like to come here and spend the day visiting our lovely city. It’s a fun family event that brings people together and gives us a chance to show off Monongahela.”

Withrow said all the dogs were on their best behavior for the parade.

“The dogs get along very well and have fun playing together,” she said. “That’s a tribute to the owners who police their own dogs.”

Certificates were awarded for biggest dog, smallest dog, best-costumed dog, the dog that looks the most like its owner and the dog with the most unusual coloring. Visitors also had a chance to visit food booths and vendors at Chess Park following the parade.

The Monongahela Area Revitalization Corp. sponsored the parade, along with Doreen Walters: Berkshire Hathaway, Angelos II, Marra Funeral Home, Little City Coffee, Warren Electric, Sparkles by Shell and Monongahela Animal Hospital. The Monongahela Police Department also provided route security and traffic control for the parade.

Stephanie Wassel, a resident of Monongahela, decided to take part in the parade after seeing a flyer in a local pizza shop.

“I wanted to bring Gunner, my Blue Merle Collie, to the parade so he could join in the fun,” said Wassel. “I think socialization is important and that it’s good for dogs to get together. We are having a great time at the Pooch Parade.”

For Anthony Berry, another resident of Monongahela, the Pooch Parade gave his Dalmatian Pitbull a chance to get some exercise.

“Jumper enjoys going for a walk and he loves seeing the other dogs,” said Berry. “This is my third Pooch Parade and they keep getting better every year.”

State Representative Bud Cook (R-49), who marched in his third Pooch Parade, said the event is proof that tourism can draw visitors to the Mon Valley.

“Last year, I started up a conversation with two women who drove from Peters Township and Upper St. Clair for the Pooch Parade,” said Cook. “They learned about the parade on Facebook. The two ladies came to Monongahela early that day to do some shopping, marched in the parade with their dogs and

then did a little more shopping before they returned home. Just those two women alone had an economic impact on Monongahela.”

One of Cook’s goals is to cross-promote events that are occurring the same day in the Mon Valley.

“Studies show that people are willing to travel up to 60 miles to get to a destination point for an event or attraction,” said Cook, who serves as secretary of the state’s Tourism & Recreational Development committee. “And they will be more likely to come to the Mon Valley if they can make a day trip of it. For instance, there were fishing derbies this morning in Marianna and Charleroi, as well as a car show at the Mon Valley Career & Technical Center. There’s a lot going on here. We just need to get the word out about our assets.”

Withrow said the Pooch Parade is the start of what promises to be a very busy summer in Monongahela.

“The Monongahela Aquatorium will once again be hosting its ‘Rockin’ on the Mon’ concert series this summer,” she said. “Also, runners are looking forward to the 5K run this coming August. And, of course, the biggest event will be the 250th anniversary celebration of the founding of Monongahela, from August 8 through August 11. We are excited about all these events and hope more people come to visit us in Monongahela.”

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