The way the story usually goes, the Fairy Godmother uses magic to enlarge a pumpkin, turning it into a carriage big enough to take Cinderella to the ball.
With no magic at their disposal on Sunday, sisters Angelina and Joeleen Connuli did the next best thing: enlisting a very small Cinderella.
That was Duchess, an 11-week-old chihuahua mix, who fit quite comfortably in a hollowed-out pumpkin that the Connulis mounted on a skateboard.
“She loves the taste of pumpkin,” said Angelina Connuli, 28. “She licks it.”
Duchess was one of three dozen dogs entered in the Hound-o-Ween costume contest in Northern Liberties, raising money for Street Tails Animal Rescue, a nonprofit on North Second Street that places dogs for adoption.
If you think humans like to ooh and aah over the costumed kiddos who come to their doorsteps on Halloween night, fur-geddaboudit. Multiply that enthusiasm by four for the four-legged creatures that paraded across an outdoor stage — the main event of a street festival near the intersection of West Laurel and North Second Streets.
“You go!” cried emcee Rachel Viggiano, better known as Q102 host “Rach on the Radio,” when Duchess was presented for judging. “Adorable.”
Joeleen Connuli, 26, of Magnolia, Camden County, and her sister, of Northern Liberties, enhanced the effect by donning winged fairy godmother costumes.
Erica Nelms, 29, of Fishtown, also joined her canine in dressing up. She and Nala, a German Shepherd puppy, were clad in matching pink as Workout Barbies. Nelms said the joint workout theme was aspirational, as she doesn’t have quite the energy level of her 11-week-old pet.
“She’s faster than I am,” Nelms said.
Creature creativity abounded. One dachshund sported a cardboard box painted to look like a FedEx truck. Another pooch went as Baby Yoda, accompanied by a helmet-wearing human — the Mandalorian from the Star Wars spinoff. There were dog superheroes, dog monsters, and one hot dog with ketchup.
Some entrants were less willing to participate than others. Bumble, a Pomeranian mix, shook off her Moby Dick costume despite the best efforts of owner Maddie Hummel, 27, of Marlton, who was dressed as Ahab.
“She’s kind of a bad little girl sometimes,” said Hummel, who wore a black coat and beard and carried a harpoon. “I struggle with her, just like Ahab struggled with Moby Dick.”
Sheldon the schnoodle was more easygoing in his bumblebee costume, joined by owner Michelle King, 54, of Northern Liberties, who wore a beekeeper’s white suit. She said the dog is used to being the focus of attention — known so well in the neighborhood that she refers to him as the area’s unofficial mayor.
“People have actually yelled ‘Hey, Sheldon!’ and I don’t know who they are,” she said.
A panel of five judges awarded prizes in several categories as the humans watched, snapping photos when they were not strolling among the concession stands.
After three hours in the warm, late October air, the crowd learned that the winner of the $500 grand prize, sponsored by Wilson’s Estate Jewelry, was among the smallest. It was none other than Duchess, the Cinderella dog.
Like any self-respecting star, she already had posed for her portrait. A caricaturist captured her likeness in felt-tip marker and colored chalk.