A Mardi Gras celebration that lets dogs unleash their inner party animal.

Something is in the air in Soulard, a historic French neighborhood in St. Louis known for its Mardi Gras festivities. On Sunday, February 12, thousands of eager sniffers will discover millions of exciting smells at the 2012 Beggin'® Pet Parade. It's fun by the whiff, from the costumed dogs marching up ahead (gotta get acquainted) to the scent of bacon wafting through the streets.

The idea to dress dogs in costumes and parade them through the streets was conceived where you might expect it... in a bar. In 1994, the owners of Clementine's bar in Soulard created what was then known as the Barkus Pet Parade, but as the event exploded in popularity, the logistics became too much for them to manage alone. Beggin' Strips and Mardi Gras, Inc., came aboard as sponsors, which made for a great combination: bacon and beads.

Now in its 18th year, the parade is expected to attract over 80,000 people and 8,000 pets. The presence of so many dogs in one place is just begging for some sort of record attempt. Believe it or not, there is actually a Guinness World Record for the loudest bark by a group of dogs. On the historic day of November 7, 2009, 76 dogs set the current record of 124 decibels in Washington Park, Colorado.

What better to inspire the world's loudest bark than the world's longest Beggin' Strip? This 10-foot bacony behemoth will be shipped from the Purina plant in Clinton, Iowa. The dogs under its chewy, smoky, meaty spell might inadvertently set a new record... most drool. The strict Guinness verification guidelines protect the integrity of the world's loudest bark record, so the dogs' excitement at the Pet Parade will be measured with an official decibel reader and filmed for video evidence. This is serious business. Celebrity MC Josh Brown, the kicker for the St. Louis Rams, will help kick off the record attempt.

In addition to the costume contest and fun dog games like "Bobbin' for Beggin'" and "Pin the Beggin' Strip in Hamlet's Mouth" - there's your answer to the trivia question, "What's the name of the dog on the Beggin' Strips package?" - the Pet Parade will also have entertainment options for those with two legs, including a bacon eating contest and bacon-inspired food samples from Grillmasters and local Soulard chefs. Bacon-wrapped scallops, anyone?

"We're celebrating dogs' love for bacon, as well as humans' love for bacon," said Kate Jente, one of the event's organizers from Purina.

Registration fees for the Beggin' Pet Parade will be donated to the Open Door Animal Sanctuary just outside St. Louis. A small portion of the proceeds will also benefit the "No Unwanted Litters" campaign through the Saint Louis PetLover Coalition.