Sky Valley Halloween haunts

Kelly Sullivan

The spirit of Halloween manifested under unlikely circumstances around the Sky Valley this weekend.

On Saturday morning, as a thick fog lifted, racers were seen speeding through downtown Monroe in costume. Not long after the last competitor crossed the finish line, families owned by pugs — as the Seattle Pug Rescue saying goes — gathered to show off their dressed-up dogs at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.

Mary Maki stood outside the Sky River Bakery as the sun became visible over the Main Street skyline. A deep bass beat against the buildings. She and her two sisters and her mother were waiting in anticipation.

The group was dressed in matching superwomen outfits, complete with pink, netted tutus. The 11-year-old seemed to be keeping her cool.

Their family came out “for fun,” Maki said, echoing her older sister Zoe, 13. They hadn’t implemented a specific regimen to prepare for the 9th annual Sky Valley Classic, other than the usual activities like horseback riding, climbing trees and playing outside.

Maki said her strategy for the 5K was to “just keep on running.”

Also waiting on the sidelines was Chad McCammon, who too wore a pink tutu; he paired his with pig ears. He registered this year with his wife and three kids; one was dressed as a box of crayons. McCammon said they participated to support the Monroe Family YMCA.

The local branch of the national nonprofit has hosted the Sky Valley Classic for nine years. Funds raised from the races provide financial assistance to members and scholarships for youth programs. Youth development is one of the three pillars of the national YMCA nonprofit, as well as healthy living and social responsibility.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas sent the runners and walkers off with a few words. He said everyone who came out was supporting healthy living and a healthy community.

“Are you ready to run?” he shouted.

For Saturday’s 10K race, McCammon came out with his running group, the Route 2 Runners. While he waited at the front of the racers for the countdown, surrounding him were other pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and a young, but scary wolf. 

Monroe Family YMCA development and corporate relations director Tania Price wrangled the runners and rallied their audience while dressed as a mad scientist. She said a little less than 300 people signed up this year, which is a usual turnout for the fun runs.

After completing their mile, Jackie and Dwight Nelson cheered for those who hadn’t finished yet, along with their children and grandchildren. Jackie said it was her first time participating in the Sky Valley Classic. She said three generations of her family came out for the friendly competition.

She and her husband wore matching full-body fly outfits complete with fly swatters and large bug-eye glasses. Dwight said he has competed for nearly eight years, but this year was limited to briskly walking because of a back injury.

“He finally let me buy a costume and join him,” Jackie said laughing.

A few feet away, licking a lollipop and decked out in a flowing pink gown, Eowyn Wick watched as more competitors crossed the finish line. The 10-year-old said she didn’t have any trouble taking the mile at a walk and run pace with the dress on.

Wick said her favorite part of the event was staying to “cheer people on at the end.”

The echoes of applause and hurrahs dwindled in downtown by noon, in time for the next holiday-themed affair to begin.

Myriad pugs waddled their way around the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Gary D. Weikel Event Center Saturday afternoon, decked out as dinosaurs, politicians, insects and Game of Thrones characters, which went along with this year’s theme.

Jan and Chase Lindow, donning secret service agent outfits, escorted Mani and Mugsy, who were dressed as first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump. They weren’t the only pair representing the nation’s leaders at the Pugoween fundraiser for the Seattle Pug Rescue. Janine Walker had clothed Napoleon and Josephine in the same attire.

“Plus, we like dressing them up; any excuse to dress up the pugs,” she said. “They are just begging to be dressed up.”

Seattle Pug Rescue Chair Sherry Vadhein said the fundraiser was started more than half a decade ago. The organization has always taken in any pug regardless of age or medical condition. Each one is placed in foster care until they are adopted, she said. 

The nonprofit is run by volunteers, Vadhein said. She has three pugs of her own.

Vadhein said the breed is known for being loyal and loving. They are susceptible to extreme cold and heat, so she keeps hers indoors when temperatures rise more than 75 degrees. She said pugs are a very popular pet for owners in Seattle.

K the Lady Pug gained a lot of attention for her ukulele player costume. The 15-year-old pug was raised from the time she was 8 weeks old by Darlene Mate. Rodger Encarnacion found the outfit on social media, she said.

Mate said the trio comes out to support the Seattle Pug Rescue every year. She said for her next pet she plans to get a rescue pug.

Pugs are good for apartment living, Vadhein said. They are small and don’t require much exercise. They have been one of the most popular dogs in the Puget Sound area for years. Around 2005, they were in the top three, she said.

Vadhein said the average lifespan for a pug is 13-15 years old, but she has known one who lived to be 24.

“They’re a lot of dog in a little body,” she said.


Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Racers in the 10K Fun Run head off at the ninth annual Sky Valley Classic in downtown Monroe on Saturday, Oct. 28. Turtle, Bandit and Zeus dressed up for the annual Seattle Pug Rescue Pugoween fundraiser, which was held at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 28. Darlene Mate brought K the Lady Pug to the annual Seattle Pug Rescue Pugoween fundraiser.


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