There was a great disturbance in the force felt by all members of the Very Good Boy Allegiance yesterday: The 2018 Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade is canceled.
The announcement of the cancellation of one of NYC‘s most cherished events was posted on Facebook, and people instantly went into mourning mode, then crisis mode. A GoFundMe page has already been set up, accumulating $860 of its $15,000 goal as of publish time.
“The Parks Dept is asking for a large insurance & liability policy in order to hold the event this year — and we simply don’t have the funds or sponsor willing to provide it,” the post says. “Having a means to fundraise (or a park conservancy which Tompkins Square does not) was a pre-requisite to renovating our dog park. Over the years the parade has raised more than $200,000.00 for the park — and secured twice that amount in matching funds. We are also leaving the dog park with an endowment at City Parks Foundation for it’s maintenance and upkeep for the next 10 years.”
The parade annually draws more than 10,000 people, some of whom travel from out of country with their pets for the event, and the parade lasts for hours. (I know because I was lucky enough to be an honorary judge at the 2015 parade, one of the greatest privileges of my dog-gone life.)
Ada Nieves, Dog Parade cohost, 20-plus year East Village resident and founder of an NYC Chihuahua meetup, says the outpouring of support has been overwhelming. “We’re so heartbroken,” she says. “We have people who already bought tickets [to travel here] thinking it was going to happen. Some told me they’re already working on their costumes.”
The event typically has a sponsor to help cover costs, but this year insurance to cover liabilities for the expected 18,000 attendees will cost between $10,000 and $15,000, a cost the volunteers cannot cover themselves, Nieves says. The money from sponsorship goes straight to the park, she says.
“This is very dear to me because since I joined as a cohost, I started bringing rescue groups to have adoptable dogs available for the public to meet,” Nieves says. “They usually come in costume and people can fill out applications to adopt or become a foster. [The cancellation] is very sad because it affects in so many ways. But we’re hopeful. We live in New York. I believe in the power of the people. The community seems to care. I’m waiting for a miracle in Tompkins Square Park.”
We are too. Till then, we’re feeling ruff.