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Hayden Clark has waited since last year to figure out what creation her family will come up for Carl.
Carl is the pet guinea pig of Hayden, a 12-year-old from La Grange, and her family.
Last year, the Clarks put Carl and another guinea pig in two cages atop a wagon, flowers and cans hanging out back. Hayden and her friends and sisters dressed in fancy dresses and were holding a bouquet and had a "Just Married" sign on the wagon. They took second place in the kids small group division at the La Grange Pet Parade.
"I've been waiting since the end of the last pet parade to see what we would do this year," Hayden said. "It was so much fun."
The fun resumes this month with a different format.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 74th annual La Grange Pet Parade will be a virtual online event. The pet parade committee has asked residents to send in 10- to 30-second clips of themselves, their families and pets parading through the neighborhood.
The parade will be aired at 9:30 a.m. May 30.
The parade, started in 1947 by a group of local business owners led by Ed Breen of Breen's Cleaners, is now run by the nonprofit Pet Parade Charities.
The Clarks this year considered a "rodent squad" theme for Carl with friends who have guinea pigs and hamsters. A bunch of them have strollers, so they could have gone with an anniversary or adoption idea.
They ended up putting Carl in a stroller, Hayden and her sister pushing him down the street with a sign "We Heart our Pets."
Hayden hopes they make the pet parade video May 30, and win their category. She also looks forward to seeing what other families come up with.
"I like to see dogs in costumes, that's so cute," she said. "I'm excited to see it."
Beth Augustine, a La Grange Village Trustee, recalls the Pet Parade once being on WGN. She was the parade queen in fifth grade, and was in it with her Girl Scout troop growing up. This year, the Augustines made a parade video with their yellow lab Mabel and all the neighborhood kids and their dogs – all while practicing social distancing.
"They really wanted to do it. All those kids know how meaningful this is and what it would mean not having it," Augustine said. "The pet parade, it's 100% how summer begins here. I have no idea what it will look like this year, but I know it will be great."
Russ Riberto has lived in La Grange for eight years with his family, and hasn't missed a Pet Parade since. This year provided their first opportunity to participate with a pet, their five-month Goldendoodle Coco.
Riberto and his wife Tricia wore their superhero costumes for their video, Coco wore a red cape and their daughter led the way in a police officer uniform.
"We've been actively involved not only in attending the Pet Parade but also with Pet Parade Charities. Given our involvement we felt like we had to do a little more than walk down the block," Riberto said. "With the pandemic it's unfortunate that the physical event is canceled, but it's fantastic that they're recognizing it with a virtual event rather than nothing at all. It really is La Grange's premier event, signifying the unofficial kickoff to summer and a gathering of friends."
The parade will be about an hour long and will feature local celebrities. Jim Peterik will salute the parade with his hit "Eye of the Tiger." Former La Grange President Tom Livingston and Lyons Township alumnus and Broadview Fire Chief Tracy Kenny are honorary grand marshals. Six-year-old Grace Mosqueda of La Grange is the junior grand marshal.
Team mascots Southpaw from the Chicago White Sox and Staley from the Chicago Bears also submitted videos of themselves with a pet.
The virtual parade can be seen on Comcast channel 6, AT&T channel 99 and the website youtube.com/LTTVonline. The video link will be posted on the website lagrangepetparade.org.