The 21st year of the Krewe of Barkus event in downtown McKinney featured a parade of dogs in superhero costumes, over 30 vendors and the unveiling of a statue commemorating the movie “Benji.”

The event is a Mardi Gras dog parade styled after the Krewe of Bacchus parade in New Orleans, and it featured more than 300 participating dogs and owners. The event was held Feb. 19 at Dr. Glen Mitchell Park and included pet adoptions, pet-specific vendors and general vendors. The Big Easy Brass Band also performed and led the parade around the downtown square.

A statue commemorating the film “Benji” was unveiled on the Krewe of Barkus stage with actress from the film Cindy Smith Baker in attendance. McKinney served as the main outdoor shooting location for the film, according to the Visit McKinney website. The sculpture commemorates 50 years since the movie was filmed in 1973 before it was released in 1974.

The creation of the statue was organized by the Benji Love Project and funded by the Daisy Riddle Family and the McKinney Arts Commission, according to a news release. Plans for the statue were first announced June 8 following a June 7 City Council meeting where council members approved a $15,000 contract with sculptor Susan Norris.

“I'm very honored to be the sculptor artist chosen to immortalize the little dog that kind of put McKinney ... on the map,” Norris said.

Benji’s statue will be installed on the sidewalk at the southeast corner of Tennessee and Virginia streets. A “Benji” movie screening is also planned for fall 2024 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.

This year’s event theme was “Unleash your superheroes: Barkus salutes the good dogs,” commemorating heroes from fiction, history and everyday life. More than 15 awards were given as part of the event’s costume contest, with categories such as best in show, most creative, best group and more.

Next year’s Krewe of Barkus event will be held Feb. 11, 2024, at Dr. Glen Mitchell Park. The theme is “Barkus salutes the Lone Star State,” and it will celebrate the culture, history, and cuisine of Texas, according to the event’s website.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Unfaded Brass Band are the performers pictured in the second image.