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Dogs like these won’t be allowed to walk in the Faribault Pet Parade this year per health and safety guidelines, but they can catch a ride with their owners in the parade lineup Thursday. (Metro Creative Images)

Health and safety guidelines may prohibit Faribault’s 84th annual Pet Parade from going on as usual, but the Parks and Recreation Department deemed it important enough to continue in a different way.

Instead of animals and their humans marching on foot — or paw — this year, participants will drive or ride in vehicles. Even residents without pets can get in the lineup this year by applying a bit of creativity.

“Normally we will judge different categories, but this year, we’re just encouraging people to decorate their car,” said Jill Strodtman, youth program supervisor for Faribault Parks and Recreation. “… They can kind of go with a summer-themed look or a pet-themed look. Traditionally we have a theme, but this year we just left it as the basic pet parade.”

The pet parade will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6 at the Rice County Fairgrounds. The parade route will head southbound on Second Avenue from the fairgrounds exit, turn west on Fourth Street, head north on Lincoln Avenue and make its final turn on Sixth Avenue Northwest. The parade will end at the corner of Central Park, on Third Avenue Northwest.

Strodtman said participants should arrive in their vehicles at the Rice County Fairgrounds at 6 p.m. Thursday for staging. Participants usually register for the parade in advance, but this year, anyone who wishes to drive in the lineup simply needs to arrive at the fairgrounds at the scheduled time.

Parade goers are free to step outside their homes to watch the vehicles pass by, but this year’s route also allows for spectators to park in specific spots to watch from their own cars. Onlookers are expected to follow social distancing guidelines and obey traffic laws.

Like previous years, the fun continues after the parade ends. Central Park will host entertainment like a children’s DJ and a youth spirit team pom pom dance at 7:30 p.m. at the park band shelter. Crowd limitations will be enforced.

The Faribault Pet Parade began 84 years ago during the Great Depression, when families were looking for fun and inexpensive forms of local entertainment. The tradition has evolved over the years to include additional activities after the parade, and this year will mark the first vehicle-only parade in the history of the event.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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