Dog parents Courtney and Dai with their dog Taz dressed as Just Stop Oil climate activists (all photos Rhea Nayyar/Hyperallergic)

On Saturday, October 22, hundreds of dogs dressed to the nines poured into Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park for the annual Halloween Dog Festival and costume competition. Contestants stood in winding lines before being ushered onto the main stages to present themselves in the competition with nine categories. I came equipped with a camera in sports mode, long nails for belly scratching, and sheer excitement to capture and take part in the joy. Without further ado, I present some of the most iconic, well-thought-out, and hilarious dog-and-owner duos that came to compete or simply show off.


Group Costumes

We’re starting off strong with dog parents Courtney and Dai with their beloved Taz for one of this year’s most timely costumes, in honor of climate activists’ recent tomato-souping of a van Gogh painting in London. Dai is an art teacher so the trio was able to churn out the costume quickly using readily available materials.

“We didn’t even enter,” Courtney told me when I wished her good luck in the competition. “We love to come up with cute costumes and have fun, but we just want to be around all of these cute dogs and crazy dog owners.”

Mimi the six-year-old Bichon Frisé and her subjects — err, I mean parents — Kat Liu and Kevin Coronado stole the show a second year in a row with their elaborate “Bodega Cat” group costume that won Judge’s Pick. The attention to detail is astounding with the immediately recognizable Shen Yun and “Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar” ads. According to Liu, Mimi won the Best Food Costume last year when the entourage came as a dim sum cart.

The t-shirts are a spectacular detail.

Elsewhere, Pikachu, Charmander, and Bulbasaur all accompanied this Pokemon trainer on the quest to catch them all.

Fun fact: Pomeranian smiles are contagious!

In a beautiful role reversal, Ameera Marzouq and Paige Edmonds came as two of the 101 Dalmatians while their lovely Dachshund, Chance, was dressed as Cruella de Vil. The shock of white temporary dye on Chance’s ear is a nice touch!

Ameera Marzouq and Paige Edmonds with Chance

Entertainment and Pop Culture

In one of the most pawesome of all categories, Frito Pawlo made an appearance this year! I appreciate the smiley, bowlegged remix that Chimi the Corgi brought to the composition.

What eyeliner does she use?

Season four of Stranger Things took the world by force over the summer. I can’t look at this Demogorgon Duo without “Running Up That Hill” playing in my head.

These guys were all over the place!

Nearly every dog has had to bear the cone of shame at some point in their life. This dog is making the best out of a bad situation with a hilarious, MTA-centric sign costume.

My own dog wouldn’t move an inch when he had to wear a cone, so this little dog gets all the praise from me for being a good sport.

This Statue of Liberty snowglobe costume was the definition of extra. The little terrier knew it, too, as it kept howling for attention!

Carted around on a dolly like the princess she is!

Mochi, a two-year-old Shih Tzu dressed as the Pope, came correct this year. His mother, Katherine Saldivar, only had one thing to say:

“In Dog we trust.”

Paw-men, Katherine. Paw-men …

Mochi looking pensively into the distance while he is caressed by a friend of Saldivar

Florence and Nima made their debut to the Halloween Festival in style referencing the 1990s hit song “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. Anaar and Peste, two Mini Australian Shepards, looked fantastic in their ice bag costumes!

Ice, ice, baby

Best Smile

I know that this isn’t a yearbook, but we all love a good puppy smile! Here are some of the best grins and smirks at this year’s festival.

I didn’t catch this one’s name as I snapped this photo on my way out, but I would just like to add that I smiled like this when I turned 18, too.

I hope I maintain this level of optimism and zest for life when I get that old!

Remember how I said Pomeranian smiles were contagious? Please be aware of additional evidence presented in Exhibit B. This sweet girl is a roll of sushi, but the black seaweed band was swallowed up by the mountain of fluff!

Exhibit B from the case study of the contagiousness of Pomeranian smiles

Sorry to all the Wonder Woman dogs that I passed, because I ran straight to this Corgi loaf of Wonder Bread. It’s so simple — obvious, even … But just so perfect!

Don’t worry … Not only did I honk the nose, but I scratched the chin, too!

And last but not least, we can appreciate the smile of Joseph Borduin, the head organizer of the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Festival. Borduin has been at this for three years now after joining Tompkins Square Dog Run’s volunteer committee to keep the park clean. He certainly takes that role to heart, as his email signature reads “Head Pooper Scooper @ Tompkins Square Dog Run.”

When asked about what we should look forward to for next year, Borduin said that he’s trying to get an actual parade in the works. And honestly, what goes together better than dogs and walks anyways?

The man behind it all, Joseph Borduin, flanked by two of his beloved canine friends

There were many iconic dogs and group costumes that didn’t make it into this list, but those interested in finding out who all the 2022 competition winners are can find the list and accompanying images on the Tompkins Square Dog Run website. And thankfully, if you weren’t able to make it to this Halloween Festival, there are a few more set to take place in New York City at Manhattan West Plaza, Fort Greene Park, and Washington Square Park during Halloween weekend.

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...