Though summer is still in full wing, now is the time to get those fun fall activities on the calendar. If you want to have a howling good time in the Lowcountry this October, treat yourself and a furry best friend to Wagoween, a Halloween costume contest for dogs.
This year’s second annual event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 8 at the Charleston Place Hotel on King Street. Local celebrities, including TV’s Southern Charm cast members, will choose winners across several categories. In addition to bragging (and barking) rights, top dogs receive great prizes, and every participating pup gets a goody bag.
“This year’s event will be held in conjunction with Second Sunday, downtown Charleston’s signature monthly event,” said Wagoween founder Susan Matthews, an executive board member of the foundation and a Realtor with The Matthews Group of Coldwell Banker Realty. “King Street will be closed to traffic between Queen and Calhoun Street so you can safely parade your pup and trick or treat at participating stores. Judging will take place at the courtyard of The Charleston Place Hotel.”
Organized by LENS Foundation, the nonprofit fundraiser supports the K-9 unit of the Charleston Police Department. “Besides being fun, this event makes an important impact,” Matthews said. “Civilian safety and nonviolent outcomes increase when K-9 units are involved.” The cost for each K-9 unit dog, along with specialized training, care, and equipment, can exceed $25,000. After retirement, their human police partner shoulders the financial responsibility. “Wagoween proceeds help The LENS Foundation offset these expenses,” Matthews said.
Matthews’ inspiration for Wagoween came from similar efforts in both Savannah and Las Vegas. Savannah attracts 2,000 people a year to its event, which began in 2006.
Las Vegas began Howl-O-Ween in 2021 to support the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation.
If the inaugural event is any indication, Wagoween might soon become the next big Lowcountry attraction for both locals and autumn tourists. The 2022 occasion attracted over 100 registered dogs, capacity crowds, local and national business sponsorships and special guests that included Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg, the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team mascot and Shep Rose of the television show Southern Charm.
Not to be outdone, the CPD K-9 unit brought cheers and applause by wowing the entire gathering as it demonstrated how it protects and serves the community through simulated crime scenes.
Going forward, Wagoween promises to become bigger and better each year — but for now, all you have to do is get yourself and your canines involved in the incredible reason the Halloween season. “So, please register your dog at WagoweenCharleston.com and come out and have a good time for a great cause,” Matthews said. “The contest is tail-wagging fun for everyone.”
For more information, please visit WagoweenCharleston.com.
By L. C. Leach III