SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This October will mark a big milestone for one of Savannah’s most popular events for animal lovers. The fifteenth year of Wag-O-Ween will also include some notable changes.
Over the past decade and a half, Wag-O-Ween has grown from a small fundraiser to an event organizers say draws over one thousand people each year.
“People who come from out of town out of state," Planning Committee Member Tonya Rintye said. "They’re booking hotels when they found out we were doing it again this year.”
Dog lovers come from far and wide every year to dress their pooch up in costume, explore local businesses and support a good cause.
But when the pandemic hit, those in charge of planning Wag-O-Ween knew the event would have to look different this year.
“So many people don’t feel safe to go out and do anything, and so as a team we’ve worked on expanding the time and place for dog trick or treating," Cody Shelley, Board Member of Renegade Paws Rescue, said. "That way they can do it in a way that feels really safe for them”
They’ve made a lot of changes to make sure the event could still happen safely. That includes spreading out the booths set up by local rescues and splitting up the schedule over two days.
“It’s almost a scavenger hunt schedule," Shelley said. "You can do it at your own pace on your own timing. You can do it either or both days.”
The 15 year milestone will be bittersweet, however, because it’s happening without the event’s founder. Sara Portman passed away recently after a battle with lung cancer. Shelley says Portman continued to dedicate herself to planning the event even while she was sick.
“Everyone sort of relied on her advocacy in a huge way," Shelley said. "We’re really excited to turn Sara Portman’s intention and legacy into a larger benefit for the wider community.”
This year, a large portion of Wag-O-Ween’s proceeds will go towards the Sara Portman Community fund. That fund will support medical care, spaying and neutering, as well as community education. All proceeds of the event are given to local pet rescue agencies
Wag-O-Ween is scheduled for October 24 and 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Masks are strongly encouraged. Themed masks that are made locally are being sold as an additional fundraiser.
A weekend wristband costs $10. To buy a wristband, click here.
To learn more about changes to Wag-O-Ween and the Sara Portman Fund, click here.