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Halloween comes early for Richmonders, dogs at Point Isabel

on October 30, 2019

With Halloween at hand, enjoying fancy dress parades is not only for humans.

Richmond’s “Barktoberfest” last weekend at Point Isabel Regional Shoreline offered the area’s canine population the same chance to celebrate.

Barktoberfest’s October 26 costume parade was accompanied by competitions for categories such as the best small, medium, and large dog costumes. This year, about 50 dogs trod along the waterfront and showed off their attire with their tails wagging cheerfully. Some dressed in rainbow costumes while other dogs and owners wore matching superhero attire.

Point Isabel Dog Owners and Friends (PIDO), a non-profit organization, held the annual event to celebrate Point Isabel, an extensive and open land that allows dogs to be off-leash.

“Dogs being dogs are a joy. The delight of a dog enjoying running free amplifies the pleasure of a person taking a walk,” says Mary Barnsdale, a PIDO board member.

PIDO was formed following the decision made by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) to forbid off-leash recreational dog-walking at Point Isabel in 1985. The institution persuaded the district to lift the ban by working out plans and rules to keep the park clean and safe. Their efforts bore fruit, leading to the revival of the off-leash park in 1987.

Even so, Barnsdale explains, Point Isabel is not just “a dog park.” It welcomes all kinds of people, including walkers, joggers, and even windsurfers. To maintain Point Isabel as a multipurpose park, PIDO plays various roles ranging from contributing $2,000 to the EBRPD annually to purchase biodegradable bags for dog waste to educating park visitors about its rules.

Barktoberfest is meant to build bonds between a person and their dog, and offer people opportunities to interact with one another, she says, adding, “We take satisfaction and pleasure in creating a space or holding an event…where people with common interests can interact with each other and get to know each other.”

People and dogs parading along the waterfront.
A dog following its owner.
Evie Oneil and her dog Milo won first prize for the category of best small dog costume.
Greg Burns (left), Nancy Holloway (right) and their dog Molly were runner-up for the category of best large dog costume.
Madison Marshall and her dog Shaggy were runner-up for the category of best small dog costume.
The Gusses and their dog Pappy Van Winkle were runner-up for the category of best medium dog costume.
People and dogs communicating with each other. The woman in the black hat, named Ali Estrada, and her Dalmatian dog Dallas were runner-up for the category of best large dog costume.

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