If you mention "Weenies on Parade" in the Soldotna area, undoubtedly almost everyone will know what you're talking about. For dog owners and non-owners alike, the mob of dachshunds is one of the highlights of the city's annual Progress Days parade.
Diane Fielden formed the group 15 years ago.
"It started with me and two little weenie dogs," Fielden said.
The first time "Weenies on Parade" made a Progress Days appearance, 15 weenie dogs participated. Since then, the group has grown to involve several local dachshund owners, some from surrounding cities within the state and even Outsiders annually attend the event.
"Everybody knows for the past 15 years to meet at the corner (of Cadre Feed) and participate in the parade," Fielden said. "We don't even have to put any advertisement out there anymore."
During the year, the group doesn't hold meetings or anything of that nature, they all just know to gather together for a good time at the parade.
"Every year it's word of mouth," Fielden said. "It's just a group of people really. There's no organization behind it, just good people and weenie dogs."
Fielden said she likes the breed because of the dachshund's anti-dog mentality.
"They don't think they're dogs, they're humans," she said.
"Having a little dog on your lap is awful comforting," Fielden said, especially during the long, cold winters.
"If you have one, you can't help but have more," she said.
About the parade, Fielden said she enjoys throwing out candy, having a good time, but mostly being a involved with the community.
Fellow dachshund owner Stephani Batchelder agreed.
"It's been a blast. It's a really good family event. It's great fun," she said.
Batchelder, manager of Tarma Grooming in Soldotna, has owned weenie dogs for nine years and participated in the parade for the last five.
Batchelder said she likes devotedness of the breed.
"They have an undetermined amount of loyalty," she said.
One of her five weenie dogs, Stretch, clings so much to her, she calls him a wart. The only way to get him away from her is to have him removed, she joked.
Over the years, the event has grown. This year, the group is hoping to have one of its best years ever.
"We're trying to reach 100 wiener dogs," Batchelder said.
Another Tarma Grooming employee, Kali Topp, has participated in the event for the past two years.
Topp said she wasn't a fan of dachshunds until she started working at Tarma four years ago.
Two years ago, Topp rescued her weenie dog, Sammy.
"They're really tough for a little dog," she said.
About the event, Topp said, "That's pretty fun seeing all of them all together."
Rain or shine, "Weenies on Parade" march every year.
"Weenies don't care about the weather," Fielden said. "We're here for fun."
Mike Nesper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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