Happy Howl-O-Ween

Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry holds Strut Your Mutt event to build community and encourage exercise

Lea Kopke

More stories from Lea Kopke


Photo by Gabbie Henn

Nelson the Doodle showcased his “Prince Hairy” costume.

Along the banks of the Chippewa River, about 20 dogs and their owners gathered for the free Strut Your Mutt Howl-O-Ween event put on by Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

From 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 21, dog owners were invited to dress up their dogs — and themselves — in Halloween costumes and take a walk on the hiking trails near Hobbs Ice Arena.

Each dog got the chance to walk in front of the crowd and show off his or her costume. After all of the costumes were presented to the crowd, a panel of judges made up by the workers of the pet vendors determined winners for the group and individual costume categories. Each winning dog was gifted a goodie bag made up of items donated by the vendors and Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry.

Event organizer Chad Duerkop said he was pleased with the turnout for the event.

“This is about the fourth year we’ve held this,” Duerkop said. “It’s just fun. At Parks and Recreation we want to get people out and active. With dog events people are really passionate about participating.”

Attendee Kelly Christianson said she has been to several Strut Your Mutts events before. Her dog, Nelson the Doodle, is a therapy dog who often visits UW-Eau Claire. He won first place in the individual costume category for dressing up as “Prince Hairy looking for his Meghan Barkle.”

“It’s just fun to see dogs,” Christianson said. “The event is a great opportunity to get outside with people interested in similar things.”

A fan favorite of the event was attendee Bethany Lindstrom, whose daughter walked around the event handing out treats while dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. Lindstrom herself was the grandmother and her dog was the wolf. The family was awarded second place in the group category.

“I saw the event listed in Volume One and decided to go,” Lindstrom said. “I was hoping it would be a nice dayand it is! My favorite part of this event so far is just meeting all the dogs and seeing all their breeds.”

Kopke can be reached at [email protected]