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Costumed canines captivate crowd in Chestertown

CHESTERTOWN It was a pug paradise Sunday at Chestertowns 9th annual Pug Parade at Dynamite Hill. The small canines participating numbered in the hundreds, many of them dressed in costumes, competing in a multitude of events, which judged everything from best Pug-Float to Curliest Tail. The event has grown over the years from a mere 21 local pugs and their owners, to a region-wide phenomenon with hundreds of canine and human participants. Initially the brainchild of Chestertown resident Kim Olden, the North Warren Chamber of Commerce has taken the reigns this year, providing countless volunteer hours and technical support. It just got to be way too big, Olden said. I have three kids and two pugsfor the first eight years it was all me and my family and friends. Olden is the proud owner of two pugs of her own. They are just so cute and friendly, Olden said. People put so much work into the costumes and floats for the events. The parade, which this year featured pugs dressed up as pirates, pigs, and spiders among the various get-ups, is now under the organization supervision of the Chambers event planner, Pam Morin. Morin said that the 2007 pug parade had over 180 participants, this year 204 registered, and the growth shows no signs of slowing. We are updating the event website, Morin said. We are going to try to focus on new demographics and hopefully bring in even more people. Morin said that Chamber officials are pleased to become the principal organizer of the Pug Parade, adding that the event brings a lot of money into the community. Chamber Vice President Bernie Hill, owner of E-Z Marine and Storage on Brant Lake, said that the Chamber hopes to expand the event even further. We hope to make it a two-day event, Hill said, standing next to two boats he had on display. This kind of exposure is definitely needed by the businesses in the community. Hill said that the influx of people boosts revenue in Chestertown and Horicon. Several local businesses set up booths, displaying their goods. Businesses on hand included Lunas Pizza and the Cate Mandigo Gallery. For their part, the pug lovers on hand wouldnt own any other breed of dog. If you ever meet a pug, you will want one, said Erin Bandaru of Mechanicville, who along with her husband Mike owns two pugs. They are the most loving and energetic dogs.

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