LACEY – The humans on the other side of the leash seemed to enjoy the Doggie Derby at Jones Road Park almost as much as the canines themselves.
Approximately 1,000 people attended the 9th annual event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Forked River. In just five hours, organizers estimated they raised over $9,000.
“The money goes to various programs the Rotary Club Charitable Foundation supports,” said Tony Angona, Doggie Derby Chairperson. “This includes funding scholarships, providing holiday meals and contributing to local food banks.”
Bill Clanton, Jr. of WBNJ Radio served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies and provided music throughout the event. Clanton also interviewed Angola prior to the Doggie Derby, where Angona shared some background about the day’s activities.
“It started off as just a Doggie Derby (in years past),” Angola said. “It’s now a Doggie Derby and a fun day for the family in Lacey Township. We have a lot of activities going on.”
Groups gave demonstrations at the event, including Kum Sung Karate, Pride Elite Cheerleading and Waretown’s K-9 unit of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department.
The afternoon featured some fierce competition as entrants sought to become title holders in categories such as “Best Dressed Dog,” “Best Dog Tricks,” “Most Happy Dog,” and “Doggie-Owner Look-A-Likes.”
In previous years, participants have outfitted their dogs as cats, pigs and hot dogs. Although the names of the winners were not available, local leaders judged this year’s contest.
Stéphane Matteau, who played for the New York Rangers during the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, was also on hand to sign autographs.
Various vendors lined the perimeter of the fields, with many offering doggie related treats or accessories.
Lanoka Harbor EMS brought along two pups of their own that hold a distinctive role in emergency services.
“Finn and Axel are actually the first emergency services therapy dogs in the area,” shared Carl Weingroff, who works for Lanoka Harbor EMS. “They are available for fire, first aid squads, police departments, or any time there’s a bad accident. We’ll go to the family’s house just for therapy.”
According to Weingroff, Axel is a German Shepherd and Finn is a mixed breed.
The National Organization of Women set up a booth and collected 160 signatures on a petition to protect women’s reproductive rights.
“It has become clear to me that many women (and some men) who would never identify as feminists are outraged by the upcoming Supreme Court action on Roe v Wade,” said Lynda Fote, Ocean County NOW President.
Food trucks and bouncy houses added to the weekend’s event. No doubt lots of doggies will be marking their territories to return to next year’s derby.