Nothing will keep Skip Gray from his favorite event: the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

Not a bad knee. Not a walker. Not Parkinson’s disease. Not even an oxygen tank will keep the 88-year-old Colorado Springs native from going to the rodeo. “It’s a tradition,” Skip said. “Some people have Christmas or Thanksgiving, we have the rodeo.”

Skip’s son, Ken, went to the rodeo Thursday night with his dad, as he has many times before. In 1965, Skip took Ken to his first rodeo at 10 years old. It also just so happened to be the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

Living in Colorado Springs since 1953, the Grays have been going to the rodeo for years. And their reasoning is simple.

“There’s nothing more American than the rodeo,” Ken said. “Look around. Everyone is having a good time. You can’t get this at other events. We love it.”

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Ken, 64, says he and his dad have been to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo close to 40 times in the last 50 years. His son even used to be a mutton buster in the ‘90s.

It all started with Skip, Ken says.

“We rarely miss a rodeo because dad used to always take me and my siblings when we were young,” Ken said. “It’s changed a lot over the years, but where else can you go and have this much fun and feel this patriotic? You can’t find anything else like the rodeo.”

Today, Skip volunteers for a Christian group called The Navigators while Ken is a lawyer in town for the Gasper Law Group. Skip uses a walker for his knee and carries an oxygen tank by his side.

But that didn’t keep him from enjoying a hot dog and singing the national anthem Thursday. And while both know they may not have many rodeos left between them and admit it’s becoming more difficult to attend, they say as long as they’re alive, they’ll be at the rodeo.

“You know, it’s getting tougher for us to come,” Ken said. “But it’s worth the struggle.”

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