The last two weeks were busy for McLean resident "Angel." The 4-year-old terrier appeared on the local news as a race participant in a canine agility course, and then spent last Saturday morning strutting her stuff in the 10th annual Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce "Reindog Parade."
"She really loves racing the most, but we come to this every year," said owner Carol Stadfield. "It's always so much fun and the dogs are all so adorable."
In the past, Stadfield stuck with the traditional "Reindog" theme and adorned "Angel" with a set of canine antlers. However, this year she was inspired by "Angel's" namesake and tried something new — a Christmas angel costume complete with festive red velvet anklets and a silver halo.
"One year I saw a big dog dressed up as an angel, and it was so funny," said Stadfield.
The Chamber's annual "Reindog Parade" is a much-loved local tradition that has grown in popularity with each passing year. Local dog-owners dress their pets in holiday wear and bring them to the Langley Shopping Center parking lot to "parade" them past a panel of judges. Dogs are divided into three size categories, and a variety of prizes are awarded.
"This is the 10th year of trying to get antlers to stay on dogs," said Michael Wallace, executive director of the McLean Chamber of Commerce.
This year's event took place on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 8-9 a.m., and as always, residents were undeterred by the cool temperatures and early hour.
"It was more crowded than I can ever remember," said Scott Monett, president of the McLean Chamber of Commerce, and one of the event judges.
Monett attributed this to the fact that while it was certainly chilly, the weather was much milder than in years past. The event, which was coordinated by Chamber member Christine Piry, had100 canine participants and well over 200 people in attendance.
ALTHOUGH many of those who came were "Reindog" veterans, there were many newcomers as well. There were also those — such as Virginia Coffindaffer and her dog Molly — who were well acquainted with the event, but participating for the first time.
"We tried to get here last year, but we were too late," said Coffindaffer.
Costumes range from the minimal — a set of elastic dog antlers, to the extravagant — full Santa suits, and it seems that owners strive to get a little more creative every year.
"We made her costume at Michaels Crafts store," said Bethany Hoang of her dog "Bella," who was garnished with red velvet ribbon and sparkling gold antlers.
Not all dog owners stick to the holiday theme. Kelly Martins brought her Golden Retriever "Daisy" in a clown costume, and Gioia Forman's toy poodle "Chocolat" took home a "Best In Show" prize in the small dog category for her stylish "Sarah Jessica Barker" costume.
Another recent "Reindog" trend has been owner participation in the form of coordinated costumes. Veronica Elkins came to the event dressed as one of the three Wise Men, while her Welsh Corgi "Tootie" trotted alongside, proudly sporting a camel hump. "Tootie" took home a prize at last year's "Reindog Parade" for her Poinsetta costume, and also claimed one at this year's event. Similarly, Sarah Verhalen, 8, and her poodle "Brodie," won a prize for their matching chef outfits, as did Julian Fisher and his dog Thunder Bay, for their canine-wagon version of Santa's sleigh.
The "Reindog Parade" has also inspired entire families to participate in the fun. The Hinchcliff family tries to bring their family of Jack Russell Terriers — four in total — to the parade every year. This year the multi-generational clan showed up wearing Santa hats, while their dogs sported green capes.
"They have never won anything, but it's really just about the fun," said Janet Hinchcliff. "This year they came as 'Christmas Jacks.'"