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Monday, October 3, 2022

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Despite Raining Cats and Dogs, Bark in the Park Huge Success

Despite Raining Cats and Dogs, Bark in the Park Huge Success

by James Coulter

Despite it raining cats and dogs, Downtown Winter Haven went to the dogs Friday evening during the Annual Bark in the Park.

Hosted by Main Street Winter Haven, the annual outdoor pet event allowed local dog owners and their furry four-footed friends and opportunity to spend quality time in Downtown Winter Haven. Several dozen vendors were set up in Central Park, showcasing wares and services from local pet-centric businesses and organizations from Love Doggo Treats to SPCA Florida.

Pet owners could allow their dogs to run around and play within a designated dog play area. They could also participate in various activities, from watching a K9 unit demonstration from local law enforcement to even a pet yoga demonstration by Inside Out Yoga.

Normally, the event hosts its annual wiener dog race; however, due to inclement weather, this year’s race was canceled. The afternoon received a heavy downpour of rain. Nevertheless, this year’s turnout, especially in light of last year’s pandemic, proved exceptional, explained Brenda McDaniel, Executive Director of Main Street Winter Haven.

At least 700 people attended this year’s event, she said. With the total number of visitors and their pets, along with the number of participating vendors, this year’s event proved to have the highest turnout yet.

“We had the most highly attended Bark in the Park we ever had,” McDaniel said. “We can tell people enjoy coming out to events like this, so we can keep having them.”

Aside from enjoying the day with their pets, attendees could also adopt a pet of their own from the Humane Society. They appeared at the event with their adoptable pet trailer to adopt out some of their shelter pets from their no-kill shelter.

Of the eight dogs they brought out that day, four to five were adopted out by the end of the event. They also promoted their upcoming fundraiser event, Pawtastic Splash Bash, to be hosted on June 13.

Even though the rain put a hamper on the overall event, their adoptions proved exceptional, explained Beth Koon Spiwak, Humane Society President. “The turnout was phenomenal,” she said. As to why the event was so great: “It’s bark in the park. It’s exactly what we do to help our dogs find forever homes. It is a loving event.”

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