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Annual pet parade kicks off Liberty Days

MORRIS – Ronald the rat, Lollipop the shih tzu and 23 other local pets crowded the streets of downtown Morris Thursday for the seventh annual Liberty Days Pet Parade.

The event kicks off a weekend of Liberty Days festivities, all located in downtown Morris, culminating next week with the Liberty Days 5K road race.

Liberty Days is hosted by the Morris Downtown Development Partnership, but Bonnie Latta of Bone-ified Care organizes the pet parade each year.

The parade began at the parking lot of First Midwest Bank and ended on the courthouse lawn where music, food vendors and other Liberty Days activities are located.

Latta said she was happy to see the addition of a rat, who spent most of the parade on the shoulders of his owner, Shania Anderson.

“We still haven’t had any cats,” Latta said. “I like seeing the different animals because it’s for all pets, not just dogs.”

Anderson said she brought Ronald the rat because Ronald is much better around other animals than her dog.

“I left my dog at home,” Anderson said. “Ronald’s pretty calm, and he’s great around other pets.”

Several residents lined Liberty Street to watch, pet and play with the paradegoers as they walked by.

Molly Hoffman brought her daughter, Olivia, who joined several other toddlers in petting the passing dogs.

“We don’t have a dog at home, so it’s fun for her,” Hoffman said.

Latta organizes several community events – including a Doggie Easter Egg hunt and Yappy Hour – that are targeted at pet owners and designed to help animals socialize.

The parade attracted several pet owners who have attended one of Latta’s other events.

“We like going to these events. It’s just fun,” dog owner Angie Campbell said. “It keeps the dogs involved.”

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