By Jeff Gorham
The staff arrived at the ranch by 8:15 a.m. to get ready for the 4th of July parade—ranch style. We milled around the main yard until Kelsie sung out “5 minutes!” Then a loud clanging of the bell called us to gather as a group. We paused for a moment of prayer and remembrance of what Independence Day is all about. As Troy ended his prayer with an “Amen,” Kelsie picked up the lead calling out instructions for the day. The ruckus of preparations began. Brush buckets clinked, squeaky paddock gates opened, and decorations emerged from storage. The hay trailer was loaded and horses were groomed. Troy hollered, “Let’s roll!” We all piled into vehicles and headed down the driveway turning toward the small but patriotic town of Redmond located to our northeast.
When we arrived, familiar faces greeted us. Friends and families of the ranch had come to help decorate the kids, horses and the float. But most of all, they came to show support and to celebrate our great nation. Everyone’s faces revealed a childlike anticipation for what the day held. Excitement filled the air as the horses stepped out of the trailer one by one. The decoration boxes were unloaded and opened. Laughter bellowed as kids and adults carefully chose patriotic accessories for themselves and the horses.
Great care was taken to make sure that the horses were dressed to the nines, yet comfortable enough to make it the entire parade route. Remnant sported a huge pair of sunglasses and was draped with garland. Robby donned a red, white and blue top hat, bells dangling off every foot. Glitter and sparkle were the requirements of the day. There were grand smiles and joyous laughter all around.
Once the decorations and floats were completed, Troy called everyone to gather together. He and Kim took turns speaking about why we celebrate the 4th of July. The small town of Redmond was lined with American flags, each bearing the name of a fallen soldier—reminding us our freedom was purchased through the sacrifices of our service men and women. This day was about honoring them and thanking the ones still with us. Troy and Kim gave instructions to look for veterans in the crowd. They encouraged us to make direct eye contact with them and to shout—”Thank you!”—or even better to shake their hand. After a quick prayer, Troy directed riders to mount their horses and others to find their places on the float.
Amidst the cacophony of pony drawn carts, funny cars, fire engines, muscle machines and marching bands we took our place in the parade. Strolling through the heart of Redmond, the crowd cheered as the Crystal Peaks banner rolled out. “Happy Fourth of July” and “Thank You Vets” sounded from CPYR participants. Our horses walked along gallantly with young riders wearing their reds, whites and blues waving little hands and flags as they passed by.
There is nothing better on parade day than to see the community come out to support our great nation. It is an incredible opportunity to remember those who have fallen, and to say thank you to those who serve to defend our freedom. It was a day of joyous celebration and we are already anticipating next year’s parade!