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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Mardi Growl Parade 2009 A Success
February 23, 2009 - Rudy, a boisterous Labrador Retriever who played Marley in the movie “Marley and Me,” led a pack of about 500 dogs of all shapes, sizes and costumes through downtown Saturday morning as Knoxville celebrated its second annual Mardi Growl Dog Parade.

Mardi Growl Parade down Gay StreetThe costume parade for dogs and their owners - that raises awareness and funds for the Young-Williams Animal Center’s pet adoption efforts – wound its way from the future home of the city’s downtown dog park on the corner of Summit Hill Drive and Central Avenue through the Old City and along Gay Street before finishing in Market Square.

Rudy, who resides with his owner in Temple Terrace, Florida, brought a special meaning to his role as the parade’s grand marshal because the nine-year-old dog was rescued from a Florida animal shelter several years ago.

Rudy was one of more than 20 “Marleys” in the movie and he played the snowman-destroying, cake-eating version of the movie’s namesake.

The parade also featured special guests, Actor Elaine Hendrix and the University of Tennessee’s mascot, Smokey, dressed for the occasion in an orange tux.

Hendrix, an East Tennessee native who has appeared on television programs ranging from “Friends” and “Married with Children” to “ER” and CSI: Miami” and in several movies including “The Parent Trap” is a spokesperson for In Defense of Animals and has adopted four pets.

The colorful parade featuring not only the dogs but well over 1,000 pet owners - in some cases entire families walked their dog – many wearing costumes or adorned with the purple, green and yellow Mardi Growl boas given to all parade participants spread across all four lanes of Gay Street from Summit Hill down to Clinch.

Once there the Royal Court was selected by parade judges in categories that included “Best in Show,” “Most Spirited,” and “Best Costume” among others.

Sadly, the prestigious “Naked Dog Award” given to the best non-costumed dog was not awarded as the winner had apparently already left the square and could not be located during the awards ceremony.

The fabulous trophy that accompanies the title will be secured by the city until next year’s Mardi Growl.

The Young-Williams Animal Center brought several adoptable dogs to the event. A couple of them have already been adopted and further adoptions are expected.

The Mardi Growl Dog Parade was presented by PetSafe Village and Invisible Fence Brand and it was produced by the City of Knoxville and the Young-Williams Animal Center.

Other sponsors included WBIR-TV, B-97.5 WJXB-FM, and The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Regal Entertainment Group and Pepsi.
For Immediate Release
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