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Costumed pooches to take bite out of Halloween; Fifth annual contest to offer up fun, prizes

By Staff | Oct 21, 2008

The Cape Dog Bakery’s Halloween Costume Contest is returning Saturday for a fifth year of costumed canine fun.

The contest marks the start of a monthlong boon for downtown Cape Coral, as the costume contest joins the first Farmer’s Market of the season at Club Square.

Bakery owner and Community Redevelopment Agency Commissioner Lou Simmons said events like the costume contest and Farmer’s Market are all part of the bigger plan to invest in the downtown as a viable and festive destination for people from both sides of the bridge.

“We’re trying everything to get people down there,” Simmons said. “The more people the better.”

The bakery will ask for a $5 donation for each dog that is entered into competition. All proceeds will go toward purchasing what Simmons called “dog respirators” for local emergency vehicles to help save the lives of pooches in peril.

This year’s contest also features a new set of prizes. “Farmers bucks,” as Simmons dubbed them, can be used throughout the Farmer’s Market to purchase some delectables.

This new prize format is a direct response to the current economic crunch, according to Simmons. Plus, the bakery wanted to experiment with different prize formats to see what works better.

“We usually solicit prizes from the merchants, but in this economy the merchants are tapped so we didn’t want to hit them up,” Simmons said.

The dogs will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges, including City Councilmember Jim Burch, Cape Coral Community Foundation’s Beth Sanger, Kim Constantine from the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral and CRA Marketing Manager Helen Ramey.

“It’s a great way to come into the fall season and get ready for Halloween,” Ramey said of the contest. “With so many people who are empty nesters, their pets are their substantial family members and, of course, they are adorable.”

Simmons said people take the judging very seriously, and he jokingly advises his judges to “learn how to run.”

Prizes will be awarded for scariest dog, funniest dog, best large and best overall costume, among others.

Right on the heels of the contest and the Farmer’s Market, comes the CRA’s first Street Market on Nov. 1.

Simmons said the CRA is working hard to diversify the downtown corridor for years to come by combing special events, grant programs and maybe even new modes of transportation.

The CRA is flirting with the idea of instituting trolly service on a regular basis throughout downtown, not just during tasting events like last month’s International Food and Beer Festival.

“We’re working at it,” Simmons said. “Including getting the trolly system down there. We’re looking into what we got to do to make it happen.”

For more information on the costume contest, contact Lou Simmons at 542-9663.