“Everyone loves a parade.”
It’s fact whether participating on horseback, in the band, riding a float or watching from the sideline. Missing a parade when there’s one in town or even on television leaves a certain feeling of disappointment.
While impossible to be everywhere at the same time, a horseshow conflicted with this year’s rodeo parade. However fond memories from decades of parades gone by kept returning throughout the day.
Marching with the grade school band in the centennial parade six decades ago came to mind as a frustration. Waiting in Durland Park for when to move into the Main Street lineup gave time to watch the horses. Oh, to just be riding a horse instead of with the “dumb band” was the little boy’s aspiration.
Dream came true a year later when wannabe cowboy finally had his own horse and got that chance. An old local cowboy could sense the other’s desire to ride in the big rodeo parade. He was taking his horse and asked the kid to bring his horse and come along.
Rain was pouring down almost impossible to see loading the flatbed pickup with stock racks at the old railroad stockyards. Parade lineup at Swope Park started not long after dinner as downpour continued.
No letup in cloudburst yet when the Fort Riley Band marched out the fairgrounds gate followed by several hundred horses. From Cottonwood Falls to Strong City and into the rodeo grounds, everybody was drenched through and through.
Grin still proudly beamed as big raindrops dripped from what had been a new cowboy hat. Besides that all parade riders got a free ticket to the rodeo where it continued raining during the entire performance.
Riding in that famous parade is anticipated but it hasn’t always been impossible due to other activities. Still a number of years are fondly remembered. The particular horse often a customer’s colt that was ridden, riding partners, some conversation, and waving at parade watchers.
One time stands out: E.C. Roberts, Flint Hills Rodeo originator, had the always-a-wannabe start a colt. “You can ride him in the parade,” Mr. Roberts offered. Opportunity accepted, and at parade’s end, Mr. Roberts grinned, “At least you weren’t bucked off.”
Reminded of First Kings 10:25: “The parade with many horses and colorful entries attracts visitors year after year.”