The 2023 event faced a "ruff" start when it was initially canceled, but community and sponsor support had the dogs dressing up for a 33rd consecutive year
The dogs of New York City celebrated Halloween early and in style.
On Oct. 21, nearly 15,000 New Yorkers braved the rainy weather to cheer on the city's cutest pups as they trotted down the street in Halloween costumes for the 33rd annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.
The long-standing tradition was initially shut down after complications arose with permits, park construction projects, and rising costs. However, thanks to the support of local dog wellness startup Get Joy and city agencies, the beloved event's streak of continuous parades continued.
"When joy is threatened, we want to make sure that we can do something about it," Get Joy founder and CEO Tom Arrix told PEOPLE of the cancellation. "We raised our hand and said, 'Hey, we can help support this and make this better than any parade that's ever happened in the city of New York.'"
The parade, which also doubled as a costume competition, featured six judges who handed out golden tickets to their favorite costumes throughout the procession. Forty proud owners and pups were chosen to be semi-finalists, and then a select few continued into the finals.
The costume competition's top three spots were left to the audience to decide by applause. A sound meter sealed the deal for the final rankings.
Arrix, who also served as a Halloween costume judge, noted the "tough competition" and shared his simple judging criteria.
"Anything that brings a smile to people's faces," he said. "Just creativity – people that can weave some kind of New York or tri-state dynamic into the costume."
Dr. Brett Levitzke — the chief medical officer of VERG Brooklyn, veterinary advisor for Get Joy, and fellow judge — added an additional component. "I also want the costumes to be comfortable and safe for the dogs," he said.
Creating the costumes is Summer Strand's "favorite part" of the event. It's a fun process for the "Chihuahua obsessed" community leader, who served as a competition judge this year, and an opportunity to bond with her four Chihuahuas and the city's thousands of pooches.
The dog community's vibrant spirit makes the event unique for judge and author Fern Watt, who co-hosted the competition segment with Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner.
"There's so many tough things going on in the world, and to have a day where the community comes together and we all celebrate the love of our dogs and the friendship they give us is really sweet," Watt said. "It's a reminder that it's good to be silly and joyful."
Read on to see the furry costume contest winners below and other spooky-cute standouts for the N.Y.C. Halloween Dog Parade.
1st Place: Pookah as 'Winnie the Pookah'
Pookah was awarded the top prize after his "paw-rents" Sam Carpenter (left) and Michelle Leone dressed him up in a Winnie-the Pooh inspired costume, which took "about a month" to create.
"He looks like a little cuddly bear, so we thought Winnie the Pookah was the perfect fit," Leone told PEOPLE of the Pomeranian pup. "This is our first year. Wanted to go big, but we weren't expecting to win."
You can follow Pookah on Instagram @pookahthepom, where the pet boasts over 19,100 followers.
2nd Place: Penny Lane as Willy Wonka
In the 12 years the Kam family has attended the parade, Penny the pet has joined them eight times. Dressed up as Willy Wonka this year, the French bulldog was surrounded by characters from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The family had won at a previous parade dressed up as the Schitt's Creek cast, Tory (left) said. During the pandemic, they dressed up as individuals from Netflix's Tiger King in a virtual Zoom parade. "It's a fundamental thing for us being in New York, and we look forward to it every year," he added.
3rd Place: Mimi as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon
Mimi the Bichon became a parade float for a day, donning the look of the famous Pokémon character, Pikachu. Because she can't float across the streets, owners Kat Liu (left) and Kevin Condardo were there to guide her.
Abba-Zaba as the L Train
This Welsh corgi transformed into his owners' daily commute.
"We live in Williamsburg and take the L train every day," owner Seth said.
As for how the semi-finalist is planning to celebrate?
"With a nap," Seth answered for the pup.
Beast as the New Year's Eve Ball
Beast the pug is paying homage to the holiday that's also the wedding date of his owners, Jessica Marx (center) and Steven Riddle.
The owners, who took home the top prize at last year's parade, were "so relieved" that the parade wasn't canceled since they had started working on Beast's costume in August.
"It's not just for New York," Riddle noted of the parade's significance. "I have family that live all around the country in Tennessee, different places, and they see us on their local news."
You can follow Beast on Instagram @sexybeastthepug.
Muddy Mac as the Rat Czar
The nine-month-old border terrier showed up to his first parade as the emperor of all rats.
"The border terriers are bred to hunt vermin and rats, and he loves going in the N.Y.C. subway because he can smell the rats," owner Lou Probes (left) said.
But has Muddy Mac caught a rat?
"He's had interactions," the pet parent said. "Because everyone has in N.Y.C."
It's Barbie's World and We're Just Living In It
Make way! Barbie rode through the parade and back to Barbie World in style - all decked out with an entourage and a pack of fans, of course.
Floating in a Fairy Garden
This canine contestant greeted visitors sheepishly while decked out in ornate Fairy Land flowers.
Scooby-Dooby, Where Are You?
He's right here ... but dressed up as Daphne?
The "Pet" Gala
Tito the Trouble Maker
There's no way that such a cute face could be guilty of a single crime, right?!
A Wedding...Or Else
You'd better not file for a divorce from this sweet pup.
Up, Up, and Away!
Just add one extra balloon and this pup might start floating away, just like in the Pixar-animated film, Up.
This is Fine
The owners of this pup made a real-life version of their favorite meme, featuring a dog who says, "This is fine," while sitting in a room filled with flames.
You'd Better Not Anger Pearl...
Or else the iconic character from the 2022 horror film might show up with her furry henchman.
A Play on Percussion
The percussion group Stomp, well known for its physical theatre performances, might have a special guest to feature in its next show.
Vote This Dog for Mayor
Move over, Mayor Eric Adams! This canine has a new plan for the Big Apple.
Rise of the Pink Ladies
This pup and their owners formed a Pink Lady pack at the parade.
If Nintendo's famous plumber is looking for a new sidekick, the N.Y.C. Halloween dog parade has some great options.
This pup dressed up as the terrifying James P. Sullivan from the Monsters, Inc. movies — a much smaller version.
There's an Imposter Among Us...
The Halloween dog parade attracted a few feline costume lovers too!
Barbie the Blondie
This Barbie wants to feel the wind in her hair.
A Pot o' Gold
Have you ever wondered what's at the end of a rainbow? Now, you know!
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.