On Saturday, March 2, Hattiesburg’s Saenger Theater hosted the first HattiesBARK Pet Parade and Block PAWty. The event catered to both humans and pets with an assortment of food, beer and games.
Director of event production for Hattiesburg’s Convention Commission Elliot Zalaznik said the purpose of the event was to bring more people downtown.
“Downtown has really started to rejuvenate itself, and we definitely want to get that ball and keep it rolling. We also know that people really love their pets, usually more than they love other people. We felt like Hattiesburg was missing an event that kind of catered to people and their pets, so we thought this would be the perfect fit,” Zalaznik said.
After enjoying the food and games offered at the block ‘pawty’, attendees walked with their pets around downtown. In addition to walking in the parade, attendees were also invited to participate in a costume contest and trick competition.
Hattiesburg local Brian Doyle was one of the only attendees to bring his cat, Sara, but he did not let this stop him from socializing with other pet owners.
“I got my cat on New Year’s Eve, and I really just wanted to get her outside. I saw this event and thought it was perfect,” Doyle said. “She’s a really special cat—she only has three legs. I really just wanted other people to meet her because everyone deserves to meet such a special kitty.”
As one of the only cat parents in attendance, Doyle joked that he and Sara should lead the parade.
Fellow Hattiesburg local Lexi Ivey attended the event with her four-month-old Pomeranian-chihuahua mix.
“I think this is really good because it allows dogs to socialize in a fun environment,” Ivey said. “I came to let my puppy get used to being around other dogs. It’s also just something fun to do outside of regular Hattiesburg events.”
The Saenger Theater plans to host many more pet parades and parties in the future.
All photos by Brian Winters.