Kiwanis Pet Parade returns this year, with a pandemic twist

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Town Crier File Photo
Participants in the 2021 Kiwanis Pet Parade are being asked to remain in their vehicles as they follow the parade route, unlike events of years past, above.

The Los Altos Kiwanis Club has opened registration for its 2021 Pet Parade, a downtown tradition since 1947. Scheduled 10 a.m. May 15, this year’s participants will be asked to remain in their vehicles to ensure a COVID-safe experience for all.

“In recent years, we’ve had large groups representing their schools or organizations march in the parade,” said Elisabeth Ward, Kiwanis Club vice president. “So, allowing only private vehicles holding a single household and their pets is a throwback to the family parade it was years ago. We expect everyone to decorate their cars with pictures of their animals, or add ears or noses to their cars for a fun experience.”

The theme of this year’s parade is “The Healing Power of Pets,” and those who adopted a pet during the COVID crisis are especially encouraged to drive their animals in the parade. Messages of thanks to health-care workers are also encouraged.

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Courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos
Mel and Maddy Kahn are honorary marshals of this year's Kiwanis Pet Parade.

Health care is highlighted in the selection of this year’s grand marshals, Mady and Mel Kahn. The Kahns were nominated by El Camino Hospital Foundation for their outstanding leadership, active volunteering and generous support of El Camino Hospital for many years. Kahn’s Pharmacy, started by Mel’s father, Samuel, in 1939 and later run by Mel and Mady, served the city’s residents until it closed in 2000. Mel participated in the first Pet Parade in 1947 with his cat Smokey.

The switch to a car-parade format is intended to ensure social distancing. The parade route will only run along State Street from First to Fourth streets to discourage spectators. For safe at-home viewing, the parade will be broadcast on KMTV and livestreamed on the internet. Participants will be interviewed from their cars to introduce their pets on camera.

“We hope families will decorate their cars and join in the parade to help celebrate our pets, our health-care industry and our community,” Ward said. “We need something to smile about.”

To register and for more information, visit

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