HAYWARD — From the 1920s until the 1950s, the annual Children's Pet Parade was a big deal in downtown Hayward.

Thousands of local kids and their dogs, cats, rabbits and horses would crowd B Street and other downtown routes, joined by marching bands and entertainers. In one past account, a girl dressed up as white-bread mascot Little Miss Sunbeam and boys from Burbank School hauled a "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater" float.

In the 1980s, the parade had a short-lived comeback at different Hayward venues, and this year, downtown promoters hope to revive the tradition as a 21st century holiday event called the Santa Paws Parade.

The parade will happen downtown on Dec. 8 and is sponsored by the city's Downtown Business Improvement Area Board and volunteers at the Hayward Animal Shelter.

Fees, which benefit animals at the shelter, are $10 per pet and $15 for two pets or more for those who register by Dec. 3. Registering after Dec. 3 or on the day of the parade brings the price up to $12 per pet and $17 for two pets or more.

Participants can also enter into categories: Best Holiday Dressed Pet, Best Owner and Pet Look-Alike Contest, Best Dressed Pet, Best Just Plain Cute Pet, Best Group Entry and Best Float Entry.

Registration is available online at http://www.hayward-ca.gov or at the Hayward Animal Shelter, 16 Barnes Court, Hayward.

Once a nine-block event, the parade route is more modest now: Participants will travel down B Street from Foothill Boulevard to a judging booth atCity Hall Plaza.


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In 1982, the year of the parade's last revival, The Daily Review wrote that the tradition was discontinued in the mid-1950s "due, depending on which account you believe, to traffic problems created by the downtown parade, or the fact that some of the pets escaped along the parade route. Parading pets have included snakes, lizards, toads and even spiders."

This year, pigs, birds, bunnies, dogs and cats are welcome — but no animals above 4 feet tall or weighing more than 100 pounds. Participants are also encouraged to dress up in costumes.

Have interesting memories of past Hayward pet parades? Send your stories to City Editor Don Buchholz at The Daily Review, 22533 Foothill Blvd., Hayward 94541, or e-mail don.buchholz@bayareanewsgroup.com.