If I close my eyes, I can still take myself back in time to being 10 years old, sitting on the curb on Broadway in my hometown of Santa Maria California. We got up early in the morning, my dad bought us doughnuts, I wore my favorite Cowboy boots and hat. It seemed like the whole town turned out to watch this tradition! The excitement built inside me each moment by catching a glimpse of horses, hearing the bands, or maybe seeing the Shriners in their funny hats and little cars, and more! This started for me a yearly tradition that would last for the rest of my life.
It was time for the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and that also meant it was time for the Parade! Through the years, I have watched as floats and friends would pass by on the route., I also have participated with a float for my radio station or a non profit I was involved in at the time. I love coming down the parade route. I would see young children, just as excited as I was many years ago. From the vantage of a parade float I would see numerous friends and family. If they weren’t watching along the route, then they too were riding in a float. Everyone dressed as cowboys & cowgirls. My home towns businesses had all their windows painted with support and back then every business owner or manager let their employees dress for Rodeo week. All the schools let the kids dress western all week. There was an excitement in the air!
My earliest memory is having part of the rodeo entertainers come to my school and do a small demo to get us excited so that we would ask our parents to buy some tickets to one of the performances.. I was hooked!!! I didn’t want to run away with the circus….but I did want to run away with the Rodeo!
There were Hometown legends with names like Righetti, Minetti, Barks, Aquistapace and numerous others. Also great memories with some of my longest and closest friends like Tina Tonascia, Debbie Jeffers, and Ted Scott.
I have always felt the Rodeo was the best family sporting event anybody could go to in America. There was excitement, comedy, music, thrills, and more! Every event starts with the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and prayer of thanks to God. This is a tradition that is carried out in numerous cities in this great country….but for me, nothing compared to my Santa Maria Elks Rodeo.
I am so very proud to have acted as the emcee for Rodeo Events, Beard O Reno dinners, the Minetti Mini Rodeo, the Elks Media Center, the Businesspersons Pony Relay, and of course the Mutton Buster event at each performance for many years.
I have volunteered and attended this rodeo since I was 14 years old. Now at the tender age of 47 I have a very special recognition happening at this year’s rodeo and parade. I have been blessed with many titles like father, husband, friend, boss, chairman, coach, CEO, Cub Master and others. This year, I get a new title and it means so much to me….Grand Marshal.
I keep thinking about the little boy watching with excitement and ready to wave at each float that comes in front of him. He is still alive in me and somehow has the knowledge of so many proud moments from rodeo's and parades of the past. Now as I get ready to climb into my Grand Marshall car to do my lap down the middle of town, I will be living out a lifelong dream of Rodeo tradition and values.
I proudly carry on the tradition that was handed down to me from so many wonderful Elk members and community friends. My hope is that this tradition will stay alive in this town. I am so blessed and appreciative of being the Grand Marshal at this year's parade. I am even more proud and blessed to continue to be just a small part of this Rodeo and Parade.
Be well and be blessed....Let's Rodeo!