May 16—Downtown Wheatland was once again a pet friendly town on Saturday with the return of the annual Pet Parade to Main Street on Saturday morning.
A year removed from being virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade returned to the streets for the 97th running of the tradition.
It was smaller in nature without vendors, floats and hospitality rooms, not to mention any monetary donations, but there were people, families and city leaders present in-person for the parade.
"We just told people to show up," said Wheatland Lions Club Chairperson Becky Pendergraph.
Pendergraph wasn't sure the county was going to clear the parade this year due to the pandemic. While it did not have all the hoopla of typical pet parades, Pendergraph said it was a good turnout with about 85 children present during the approximate two block route that started down Main Street, then hooked around Front Street before making a left on Fourth to round out the walk.
Anybody who walked their pets received a ribbon, Pendergraph said.
There were a variety of animals, including chickens, goats and of course everyone's favorite, pet dog.
Pendergraph said the parade tends to bring out a variety of pets. One year there was a bearded dragon, while another year someone had a snake along the route.
"My first year running (the parade) we had a cow with a butcher's shop sign," Pendergraph said.
Many come back each year for the pet parade and have been going to it almost their whole lives.
Becky Hickey, who grew up in neighboring Sheridan, said the parade continues to bring joy to a lot of people, and she's thrilled to be able to share her childhood tradition with her seven-year-old daughter, Emily.
Emily brought her chicken and was cuddled up with it following the walk.
Hickey said it was nice for her daughter to have fun and be a kid again.
Brielle Gryn, 9, of Wheatland, has been moving around most her life as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force man.
Gryn says she has enjoyed her time in Wheatland due in part to the parade. This year was the first time she participated with her new pet dog, Castle.
Castle, she said, is the ideal friend for when her family is out of town.
"It gave me something to do when my dad was deployed," Gryn said. "He kept me company."