If Mark Valentine doesn’t get his event in the Guinness Book of World Records, it won’t be for lack of dogged determination. Valentine, a Kansas City promoter, plans to parade more than 700 costumed dogs, most of them Chihuahuas, through the Crossroads Arts District on May 5.
That’s right. Frilly tutus. Tiny hats. On Cinco de Mayo.
The current Guinness record for “dogs in costumed attire” is 603, set last May in Tokyo.
Valentine and business partner Steve Schilling are not just glory hounds, they’re altruistic.
The block-long sidewalk parade will introduce the dogs to their cultural heritage on Cinco de Mayo, Valentine said, and raise at least $3,500 for the Pet Connection, a no-kill animal group in Olathe.
“It’s been so funny looking at people’s faces when I was filling out the parade permits,” Valentine said. “It was like, how many floats? Zero. How many vehicles? Zero. How many bands? Zero. There wasn’t a category for how many dogs.”
The novel attempt of combining Chihuahuas with Cinco de Mayo struck promotional gold.
“This has been crazy,” Valentine said. “We have gotten press as far as Pakistan on this. We were in the Washington Post, (and) we got picked up in two newspapers in Scotland.
“A lady even called me from Wisconsin and said she wanted me to send her a picture and tell her how it went,” he said. “All those animals together in one place? It’s going to be kind of a laughable event.”
While the event is officially known as the Chihuahua Parade, the record can be set with any breed of costumed dog.
“I’m hoping to see a Great Dane who thinks it’s a Chihuahua,” Valentine said.
Melody Kelso, founding director of the Pet Connection, actually has a 14-year-old Chihuahua mix named Sandy who is a veteran of playing dress-up for charity. Two years ago, she donned a few dresses and matching hats for a dog fashion show in Kansas City, where costumed canines accompanied Victoria’s Secret models down the runway.
“She’s actually very tolerant,” Kelso said. “I don’t know what she’ll be wearing this time. It will be a surprise.”
When it comes to wearing clothes, every dog is different, Kelso said.
“Some love to dress up and be the center of attention,” she said. “Others just get real shy about it and don’t care for it. And then some just tolerate it.”
Valentine thinks it’s a hoot.
“This is so fun, we’re going to have to keep doing it,” he said. “Whatever the record is, we’ll just keep breaking it. We may have to ask Omaha to bring its dogs down because we might run out.”
But who still might stand in the way of a world record claim?
St. Louis. Uh, sort of.
In February, the “Beggin’ Pet Parade” in that city — recognized not by Guinness, but by something called the World Records Academy, claimed to set the current world record by gathering 1,326 costumed dogs in one location.
On its Web page, the academy claims to be home to the “fastest world record registration services!” (How’s three days strike you?) The site also has a world records store, which will sell anyone with a world record on its site a “jumbo-sized” 17-by-12-inch certificate complete with a gold seal that is “digitally printed on highest quality cardboard to last for many years to come!”
The Guinness people have been officially notified about Valentine’s attempt, and the proper forms have been filled out, he said. If the parade draws more than 603 costumed dogs, and all the protocol is followed, an official world record will be sanctioned by Guinness.
“The Guinness people are serious about this, man,” Valentine said. “So we’re going to have stewards there. One person for 50 dogs. And we’re going to have a notary there, too. And an affidavit. And a signature from veterinarians to verify that they’re all actual dogs.”
How ya like us now, St. Louis?