Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Goin’ to the Dogs

by Paul Ruben

Don’t you just love a parade? Like the Celebrate! A Dream Come True Parade at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom or the Glow in the Park Parade at Six Flags? But even if you hate parades, you will enjoy Ocean City’s annual Doo Dah Parade, a parade to celebrate the end of the tax season. It’s the most sincere parade of all.

Because the parade brings thousands to town, beneficiaries included the boardwalk’s merchants and two amusement parks, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and Playland’s Castaway Cove. What a great way to kick off the summer season.

I was there again this year as it marched, or rather waddled, down the boardwalk. More than 500 stumpy-legged basset hounds from all over New Jersey strolled, or were carried, down the 1.5-mile-long parade route. Pictured with me are two of the parade participants who briefly befriended me before thinking better of it, Lilly and Lola. I’m the one in the middle.

After taking this photo, the lady who owned them told me, “We’ve got such clever dogs. They bring in the daily newspapers every morning.” Her husband interrupted, “Well, lots of dogs can do that.” “But,” she explained, “we’ve never subscribed to any!”

It’s been 24 years since the first Doo Dah Parade in Ocean City, and it keeps getting better and better. This year there were several musical groups, celebrity impersonators and local VIPs. For the first time, the parade included the World’s Only Windchime Band.

“The Doo Dah Parade is very beneficial,” acknowledged Jay Gillian of Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. “Because of Mark Sofier’s marketing ideas, this crazy event puts Ocean City on the map. And when they drive in, they see that Big Wheel in our park.”

Held the day before the Doo Dah Parade was the laid-back Basset Hound Olympics, where the floppy eared pooches attempted to spring, leap over (or walk around) hurdles, and negotiate tunnels, urged on by their owners. It was a unique spectacle of inept canine athletic competition.

Although I own neither, I do like dogs better than cats. Dogs make you feel special. Cats remind you that you aren’t.

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