“Reindogs” ring in the holiday season

If you weren’t at the Holiday Walk on Saturday, you missed out on the parade of some seriously awesome “reindogs” – that is, dogs dressed up in reindeer costumes in celebration of the holiday spirit. Although the Holiday Walk began at 4 p.m., my experience of the parade began earlier. The dogs and their owners all gathered on Chapin Lawn prior to the parade so that people could pet the dogs and check out the reindogs’ sweet holiday swag. Although this ostensibly was supposed to be a disciplined, organized line of dogs and their owners, with kids and college-aged students alike going through the line to pet the dogs, in reality it was absolute chaos. The dogs were intensely interested in getting more acquainted with each other through the timeless greeting of butt-sniffing, the dog owners were moving around constantly to chat with each other and  students at the College were scrambling in all directions to pet the pups. Nevertheless, I was able to get my fill of tail-wagging and petting fuzzy, furry animals before the parade began. In between making new canine friends, Santa Claus took a break from his busy Christmas preparations to mingle with the reindog admirers, and my friends and I had the opportunity to snap a quick holiday pic with the joyful giant.

The parade began with a collection of Williamstown war veterans followed by some dandy gentlemen who were dressed in Dickensian costumes. I thought it might have been a throwback to the Victorian novel A Christmas Carol, but perhaps I indulged my literary side too far and overanalyzed. One amusing conundrum that the parade highlighted was the distinction between children and students of the College – a distinction that seemed to get more and more fuzzy as the parade went on. For example, where do you stand during the parade? Although I am taller than an eight-year-old and my enthusiasm for a dog parade is admittedly less appropriate than an elementary schooler’s, I kept getting strong compulsions to stand in front so that I could squeal over each new dog that passed. And when the Southern Vermont hospitals were giving out reindeer hats, I did not hesitate even for one second to take one, joining hordes of other students from the College in forming a pack of ridiculous “reinpeople.”

This year’s reindog parade was one of the largest and most popular yet. Goff’s participated by handing out cookies and drinks, and the Southern Vermont hospitals handed out little jingle bell necklaces, as well as the aforementioned reindeer antlers. Spring Street’s businesses also definitely benefitted from the parade, as well as the cold weather, when people came inside the shops to escape the cold and get a bite to eat. Carolers also brightened up the atmosphere – the Accidentals and Ephlats sang a few Christmas carols, and a local children’s choir chimed in with its own holiday music from the Post Office’s steps.

Any article on the reindog parade is clearly incomplete without some canine sartorial analysis. One of the first dogs to pass by was an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog, which sported antlers and was spreading holiday cheer by pulling a sleigh of his own. Another cute dog – this time a bulldog – lit up the hearts of all who saw him, since he was literally wrapped in Christmas lights. Yet another dog made the best of a bad situation, turning the cast on its leg into a candy cane-turned-Christmas stocking. You just have to admire the heart and grit of a dog that’s unwilling to miss the reindog parade even to heal his own limb. One of the highlights of the parade, of course, was our very own Dean Bolton carrying a super-cute reinpup of her own. There were also the dogs who didn’t even need to dress up, by virtue of the fact that they could be mistaken for polar bears from the North Pole. I think the strangest thing I saw was probably the two reingoats – although they initially just looked like unfortunately ugly dogs, a closer look revealed that there were enterprising people out there who had managed to stuff their goats into reindeer costumes.

The parade proceeded with some miniature ponies that were led through Spring Street, as well as some real horses that were ridden by the equestrian team (followed by an extremely necessary pooper scooper). To conclude the parade, Santa came through, riding on a fire truck to delight of the young children that I was still busily competing with for a spot near the animals.

The reindog parade and the Holiday Walk are just two reminders of the magic of Williamstown during the holidays. A walk down Spring Street, particularly when it is covered in a fresh snowfall, can bring cheer even to the most miserly Scrooge, with Goff’s Christmas Village, snowflakes adorning all of the light poles and even a Christmas tree or two wrapped in a string of lights. So when the doldrums of Sawyer Library threaten to steal your holiday spirit this finals period, take a gander down Spring Street and remember the holiday jingle of the reindogs who have gone before you.