Thursday, December 06, 2001

Just for fun

500 dogs, 50,000 candles

        Every now and then, we ought to do something just for fun. And if something more important happens, well, that's just icing on the cake.

        In the midst of decking your halls and doing your patriotic duty by revving up your credit cards, you might want to consider taking time out for two seemingly unrelated events on Saturday.

        The first is the Reindog Parade in beautiful uptown Mount Adams. This is the 11th annual excuse for people to take the dog for a walk wearing things that the dog would never actually choose for himself. Evening clothes. Santa hats. Blinking lights. Big ribbons. Antlers. Leather pants. In other words, your basic doggie nightmare. But they don't seem to mind.

Flurry of sniffing

        During registration, there's a flurry of sniffing and sometimes even a challenge or two, but “as soon as the parade starts, they are perfectly behaved,” says Ernie Minor, chairman of the event. And if they are not, a request has gone out to Cincinnati City Council members to work on waste management. (There is no substitute for experience.)

        More than 500 dogs are expected this year. Registration is at noon in the Monastery building parking lot.

        There are no fees, and prizes will be awarded for Best of Show, Best Puppy (1 year or younger), Best Senior (10 years or older) and Best Look-alike Couple.

        That last category, of course, refers to the dog and owner, which has inspired people to dress up like dogs and, unfortunately, the reverse as well.

        The grand prize is a year's worth of dog food. Even if the winner is a very, very large dog. The parade starts at 2 p.m., led by Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench with his son, Bobby. I will be with them, but I think marching in a parade next to Johnny Bench is probably the rough equivalent of sitting next to Enquirer cartoonist Jim Borgman at a book-signing or wearing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.

Neighborhood gathering

        Everything should be over by about 3:30, so there's plenty of time to head down the hill to Washington Park, at Elm and Race streets, between 12th and 14th streets in Over-the-Rhine.

        Thomas Courtney, who lives in Springdale, has organized an ambitious luminaria of 50,000 candles, donated by Candle-Lite in Blue Ash. Bags are from Duro in Northern Kentucky. Elegant Fare is giving away cookies and hot chocolate. Even the 20 tons of sand were donated by Hilltop Concrete. So — and I can't say this often enough — everything is free. And open to the public.

        Music from area choirs will start at 5 p.m., followed by a lighting ceremony at 6.

        “This is just for fun,” Mr. Courtney says, “just to get neighbors together.” You know, neighbors in Springdale and Mount Adams and Over-the-Rhine and Blue Ash and Northern Kentucky.

        All this is across from Music Hall. So if you have tickets for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert, conducted by Paavo Jarvi — somebody any city would be thrilled to have — you'd already have a parking space. Dogs and a member of the Big Red Machine, candles and do-gooders. Followed by music soaring from a one-of-a-kind palace that has offered its acoustics to artists ranging from Janis Joplin to Luciano Pavarotti.

        And if you feel a little swell of pride, if it makes you remember why you came to this city and why you used to brag about it to your out-of-town friends, if you leave determined to see what you can do to fix the things that are broken, well, that is just icing on the cake.

        E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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