By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
---- — BEVERLY— Humans aren’t the only ones running around in costumes this Halloween season. Beverly dog lovers will be getting into the spirit by dressing up their dogs this weekend for the fourth annual Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest to benefit Beverly’s dog park.
The event is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at Beverly Common, opposite the public library.
“We came up with the costume contest four years ago to gain exposure for a potential dog park,” said Erinn Powers, 33, the committee chairwoman. “We wanted to let the community know we were working on finding land and raising money to put aside for the future park.”
The contest caught the attention of Mayor Bill Scanlon, a dog owner, who supported the idea for a dog park and proposed several locations. Paddles Park, named after the mayor’s golden retriever, has since opened on LP Henderson Road next to Beverly Airport.
Thirty to 40 entries are expected for this year’s contest; last year, a couple from Boston won the grand prize with their dog, Chip, as the Lorax and themselves as trees.
“It’s important to do fundraisers like this, not only to celebrate the fact that we have a great dog park, but also to make people aware of it and encourage dog owners to take advantage of it,” said Bruce Doig, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation.
The contest has two divisions, one for small dogs and one for large dogs. Awards are presented in each division for funniest costume, scariest costume and best team/duo, plus a grand prize is awarded. Winners receive a gift certificate of their choice, donated from various local businesses, and a bone for the pup. The grand-prize winner receives a large gift basket donated by Unleashed by Petco in the North Beverly Plaza.
The entry fee for the contest is $15, plus $5 for each additional dog. The money will go toward plastic bags for picking up dog waste, gardening supplies, and the general upkeep and improvement of the park.
Other activities include pet pictures, face painting for children and food by the Scotty Dog, a hot dog eatery on Rantoul Street.
For spectators, with or without dogs, it’s a good time.
“My sister actually dressed her dog up as the big bad wolf, and she was Little Red Riding Hood,” said. Julie Torode of Danvers. “It’s a fun reason to get some costumes for your dogs and see the goofy outfits people put their dogs in.”