A Gilbertsville tradition continued Wednesday as the annual pet parade was held on village streets.
Gilbertsville Fire Department Chief Dave Robinson led the casually assembled group of people and pets up the street as residents gathered on porches and lawns to watch.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s nice to see everybody get together in a small town,” said Robinson, who said he has led the parade for each of he last seven years.
More than 100 people walked in the parade, accompanying about 50 pets. Most of the pets were dogs — the Covington family’s 8-month-old great Pyrenees, Beau; Burger, a corgi, escorted by Amanda Loitsch; Emma, a beagle owned by Ashley Bovaird; and the Turnbull family’s long-haired dachshund, Hannah. Ann Herberger and Xanthe Elbrick brought along a cockapoo, Izzy, a Labrador-Doberman mix, Clementine, and a poodle, Ollie.
While dogs of various breeds and mixes dominated the parade, several cat owners also brought along their felines in carriers. A hairless sphynx cat, Harry Potter, rode in a woven basket, drawn in a red wagon. His owner, Kurt Andreas, also rode in the wagon, securing the basket.
In addition to felines and canines, 10 Nigerian dwarf goats, elements of Gilberstsville's NY Goat Yoga, walked along the parade route. If a prize had been awarded for largest animal, it would have gone to Merlin, a white pony, chauffeured to the parade and unloaded from its van by Emily Wilson and her granddaughter, Addilyn Grabo. A nameless duck, sent to the parade from B.J. Stebbins’ farm on Mill Street, was pulled in a cage on a flatbed wagon by Stebbins’ sister, Liz Stebbins, and her nephew Levi Stebbins.
The parade traditionally winds up on Commercial Street, where ice cream, donated by Huff Ice Cream, headquartered in Sidney and founded by the Huff family of Gilbertsville, is distributed to parade participants, along with treats for pets.
The event is promoted by Gilbertsville’s Village Improvement Society. Greg Watson, president of the VIS board, was in attendance with his wife, Carrie Mae Smith, and their 6-year-old shepherd mix rescue dog Duchess. Watson credited VIS board member Mark Piedmonte and his wife Aimee with this year’s parade organization.
“I think it’s fun. It’s so Gilbertsville. It’s perfect,” Piedmonte said.
The parade has been held much in the same manner for more than 50 years, organizers said.
“My mother, Joanne Clarke, created the Children's Costume and Pet Parade years ago to give younger children a chance to shine because only older children were allowed in the marching band and color guard. She wanted younger children to feel involved in the festivities,” Rachel Clarke said.
According to Clarke, children and pets would dress up in costumes and march up Spring Street to Commercial Street, guided by a fire truck, while a drummer, usually from the local high school, sat in the back of a truck playing a drumbeat give a rhythm to the marching.
Spring Street resident June Hueth did not participate in the parade, but remembers the times she did so with her children, who are now grown.
“It’s one of those things that only happens in Gilbertsville. It’s the best way to kick off the Fourth of July,” Hueth said.
For the past 14 years, Andrea Sebeck has returned to her hometown to walk in the parade with her 14-year-old border collie, Shilo, she said.
“It’s amazing. We drive down from Albany just for the pet parade every year. It’s the highlight of the summer,” Sebeck said.