There was something about Jade that caught the eye.
Maybe it was the flags sticking out of her collar, maybe the sweet look in her eyes, but either way, she stuck out among the onlookers along the Payson Rodeo Parade route, despite the cacophony of the event.
A rescue pup from the Phoenix area, Jade and her rescuers, Carrie and Mark Toppenberg, sat at the end of the parade in shade provided by the Sawmill Theatres buildings.
“It’s her first parade,” said Carrie.
Jade looked like a pro though — no whining or shaking, although the parade passed by with loud music, dancing clowns, shouts from the Payson High School cheerleaders, and lots and lots of horses.
The 4-H Club and FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) had more than a dozen horses between them.
Rodeo Queens from all over the state pranced past in their finest rhinestone- studded gear and blinged out hats — nails polished and hair done up for queens and horses alike. Of course, some of the horses also had wreaths of flowers festooning their necks.
The Wells Fargo stagecoach had a matched set of four dark prancing beauties.
A gang of wild cowboys yipped and yee-hawed their way down the route.
Abraham Lincoln led the Payson Tea Party semi-truck bed full of strongly opinionated members carrying placards while Shirley Dye handed out copies of the Constitution.
The APS clowns rode stuffed horses and danced to a lively tune.
The Tonto Apache Tribe had traditionally garbed members including Carolena Guerra, the young girl who recently celebrated the first ever Sunrise Ceremony on the reservation.
Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin rode in a bright orange vintage Corvette and Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and his wife waved from the back of a sassy convertible.
The Payson High School cheerleaders spread school spirit while the marching band gave a sneak peak of the new show for the year.
This year, the Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country fully took over the management of the parade. Last year, the club shared the responsibility with the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce.
Later in the day, the Toppenbergs, Jade’s people, said they would attend the rodeo. “Our son is looking forward to the roping,” said Carrie, “He hopes to rope one day.”
But none of that mattered to Jade. She just enjoyed a day out with her people.