Rodeo Parade Salutes The American Cowboy

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Cowgirls, hang on to your cowboys. Calendar Cowgirls, Wild Women of the West and the lovely, young women who are rodeo royalty will be on parade at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.

"Salute to the American Cowboy" parade participants will travel down the Beeline Highway on foot, by wagon, mini-car and on horseback.

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The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo's parade is a big treat for residents, visitors and participants. It features a different theme each year. For 2005, the theme is "A Salute to the American Cowboy." There will be well-groomed horses, lots of flags, rodeo queens in flashy garb, and plenty of fun for everyone.

Watchers will be able to "ooh" and "ahh" at more than 80 entries starting at Rancho Road and ending at Highway 260.

"This year's Grand Marshall is District 1 Congressman Rick Renzi," Parade Coordinator Stephanie Turlukis-Keeney said.

He will be joined by entries from the Shriners, Bison Ranch, Red Hats, Payson High School Marching Band and the Valley group Folklorico Lindo-Y-Querido -- just to name a few.

Lindo-Y-Querido means "beautiful and loved." Girls and boys in the troupe perform traditional Mexican folk dances, and some of the older boys throw machetes in a choreographed fashion while blindfolded.

Wild Women of the West is a costumed group of riding women who raise money for good causes -- like crisis shelters and animal rescue programs. The group has been performing and helping Arizona communities for more than 32 years.

Their costumes are crafted to be authentic for the period in which their characters lived.

Susan Nation is the trail boss this year. She will be portraying Carrie Nation, a prohibitionist who landed in jail for busting up saloons with her hatchet. She preached against the evils of drinking and "soiled doves" (women of ill repute).

The rodeo grounds drill team, the Calendar Cowgirls, will be riding in their silver mounted saddles Turlukis-Keeney said. "They are all decked out with rhinestones. They are just beautiful."

The all-volunteer honor guard from Luke Air Force Base will join the parade as well. According to Christopher J. Barry, MSgt, USAF, these airmen train 20 hours a week to honor soldiers who have died with their precise marching.

Former Grand Marshall Charlie Henderson could be considered one of those honored. He was a young cowboy working in Seligman when he was drafted and sent to the Philippines in 1941.

Miss Rodeo Arizona Amanda Jenkins will be riding with her court. Queen Crystal Killian from Prescott Frontier Days will be waving to the crowd, along with Miss Junior Parada, royalty from La Reina de Las Flores and many other rodeo events.

Awards are given for best Costumed Rider Male and Female, best Costumed Riding Group, best Costumed Group, Funniest Themed entry, best Float, best Classic Vehicle entry, best Marching Group, best Civic/Volunteer entry, best Color Guard and best Horse Drawn entry. All entrants get to choose one category in which they hope to win Best Overall.

Roads surrounding the parade will close at 8:45 a.m. but alternate routes through town will be available and clearly marked.

Everyone is invited to come and bring the family to watch the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo's big parade. You can set up your lawn chairs, watch from the back of your pickup truck or just sit on the curb to enjoy this free August Doin's event.

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