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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

Don't miss doggie talent show auditions
Rating: 2.55 / 5 (58 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Nov 16 - 06:15



Erika Webb



Pomeranians with pom poms, juggling pugs, dancing Dalmatians and maybe even a "rap" terrier or two are sure to have a ball at the Doggie Talent Show auditions 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 17, on the vacant lot next to ARK Rescue Center, 441 S. Woodland Blvd., DeLand.

As soon as the last black-eyed pea is consumed on New Year's Day, proud pet pamperers begin preparations for the Krewe of Amalee's annual Mardi Gras on Mainstreet Dog Parade in DeLand and, if it continues to grow at the present rate, turnout may soon rival the big dog in New Orleans.

Krewe member and parade chair Kara Hoblick said the 2013 event will be the first to include a talent show. Five finalists, selected at the auditions, will perform onstage at the Wizard of Paws Festival following the parade.

Ms. Hoblick said the dog parade is presented by the Krewe of Amalee as a gift to the community.

Established in 1996 to provide funding for local non-profit organizations, the Krewe and the dog parade have raised and donated more than $400,000 to DeLand charities. Funds go to groups dedicated to the arts and social causes, which help children, families and animals.

She said last year the following organizations received a total of $33,000 in funds from the Krewe: ARK Animal Rescue, Family Renew Community, Florida Museum of Women Artists, 4Site, Journey's End, Museum of Florida Art, Parker's Pals, Sands Youth Theatre, Shoe String Theater, Visitation House and West Volusia Young Life.

Ms. Hoblick said float entries in last year's parade hit a record number of around 70. Usually, about 100 dogs compete for costume awards in Best Mardi Gras Costume, Best Sports Theme, Most Original Dog and Owner Look-Alike.

"This thing has grown from this little, itty-bitty, thing on Pennsylvania Avenue to a main event in the community," Ms. Hoblick said.

When the Krewe started raising money for the Cultural Arts Center in DeLand, members agreed they needed to follow the guidelines for a traditional Mardi Gras Krewe. In order to do that, there must be a parade.

In 1998, two DeLand women, Brynda Greer and Eleanor Griffin, started the Krewe of Barkalee modeled after the New Orleans' annual Krewe of Barkus parade, Ms. Hoblick said.

It's been nearly 15 years since the first parade marched down East Pennsylvania Avenue, for two and a half blocks with 47 costumed dogs, stopping halfway for a water break. Afterward, king and queen dogs were chosen and presented with royal sashes. The festivities culminated with an authentic New Orleans supper, including gumbo and king's cake.

In 1999 the parade was moved to Woodland Boulevard and "Mardi Gras on Mainstreet" was added to keep festivities going after the dog parade was over.

Some 15 parades later, it continues to evolve, attracting people from all over Central Florida.

The doggie talent competition will be held at the festival on East Indiana Avenue following the parade. Those selected at Saturday's auditions will have two months to practice for the premier event on Jan. 26.

Ms. Hoblick said judges at the auditions aren't looking for anything too specific.

"It can be any trick or talent," she said. "I had a dog that could sneeze on command. I wish she was still here to try out."

Festival committee co-chair Carolyn Anderson said in addition to Chihuahua and small breed racing, a puppy parade will take place on stage at the festival following the main parade.

Ms. Hoblick said there are no sign-up requirements for the auditions and dogs are welcome to just "show up." Oh, the owners are welcome, too.

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