NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Among the winners of the annual Essex County Hilltop Dog Park “Strut Your Mutt” Canine Halloween Costume Parade and Contest recently held at Hilltop Dog Park were six dogs and their owners from all three Caldwells and Essex Fells who took home prizes in a variety of categories, including cutest costume, best group costume, most creative costume and best in show.

The award for “Best in Show Costume” went to Caldwell residents Robert and Leah Peter and their dog, Bartholomew, who were dressed as pirates.

Fellow Caldwell resident Jody Sumner and her dog, Reed, were dressed as an insect merit badge and a boy scout, which earned them first place in the “best group costume” category.

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In the “most creative costume” category, Rose Russo of North Caldwell won first place with her dog, Max, who was dressed as a jelly belly, and Shirley Chin of Caldwell won second place for her dog, Pip’s, Annie Oakley costume.

Additionally, Nancy Howley of West Caldwell and her dog, Louie, won second place in the “cutest costume” category for Louie’s appearance as a cow. Essex Fells resident Joy Scall, whose dog, William, was dressed as "The Greatest Showdog,” took home third place in the same category.

Essex County dog owners were recently invited to display their creativity by participating in one of four “Strut Your Mutt” costume contests at Hilltop Dog Park in North Caldwell, Brookdale Dog Park in Montclair, South Mountain Dog Park in Maplewood/Millburn and, for the first time this year, the newly-opened Essex County Branch Brook Dog Park in Newark.

“The Essex County Dog Parks have become popular places for dog owners to bring their faithful companions," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. “In turn, the canine costume parades are growing into a favorite Halloween celebration for everyone to enjoy. Whether you own a dog or not, we invite you to come see creative costumes worn by dogs of all breeds.”

DiVincenzo, pictured above with the West Essex-area winners, awarded prizes to the first, second and third place winners in a variety of categories at all four parades.