Ask many spectators at the Annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Parade why they come to the Western-themed event and they’ll most likely respond: “to see the horses.”
That was the case for 11-year-old Kelly Rogers, who wandered down Tejon Street Tuesday evening to catch a glimpse of one before the cowboys and cowgirls took off through downtown for the 71st annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Parade that promotes the rodeo.
But unlike many other attendees who were in awe of the horses and spirited cowboys Tuesday evening, Rogers has a special appreciation for horses: One saved her life.
When she was 3 years old, Rogers’ liver wasn’t developing. It was through therapeutic rides on a miniature horse named Teddy that helped her liver grow again, her mother said.
“They make me happy. They remind me of how fun it is to ride,” said Rogers, who hopes to volunteer as a walker for a therapeutic riding program one day.
Eighty-four floats rolled down Tejon Street this year, organizer Don Johnson estimated, with 11 entries coming in on Tuesday.
“It looks pretty crowded,” Johnson said looking at the huddles of families lining the curb before the parade began. “And the weather held out, thank God.”
But an ominous cluster of dark clouds proved Johnson wrong, as rain droplets began to soak spectators about 20 minutes after the marching started. Regardless, attendee Regina Wasserman cheerfully bopped along to country music that blared from the Texas Roadhouse float.
“The rain really don’t bother me at all,” said Wasserman, who considers herself a die-hard parade fan and has been coming to the event for seven years.
Employees at OfficeScapes used hay bales, hand-crafted cacti and an old-fashioned covered wagon to bring their own Western flavor to the parade. Creating the float allowed the company’s interior designers to tap their imaginative sides, but the parade is more about the kids, they said.
“When you give them eye-to-eye contact they light up,” said OfficeScapes administrative assistant Eileen Verosko.
Clapping for the Range Riders as they wrapped up the hour-long parade were three brothers who attended the parade for the first time.
Originally from Burundi, Vincent Mpawenayo said the parades in his hometown don’t exactly involve cowboys and old cars, but seeing the city’s Western heritage come to life made him feel good. His brothers, Erik Niyonzima, 11, and Pascal Manirambona, 16, agreed it was worth it to stand in the rain.
“You have to come watch the parade,” said Will Meenan, the boys’ English as a Second Language teacher. “If these guys are out here working hard and getting wet, you gotta come see it.”