Well, we managed to get another road trip in, this past weekend!
Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Saturday we were up (me, reluctantly) and out the door an hour or so later, because we didn’t want to be late.
Where were we headed? Back to Wickenburg to check out the 70th Annual Gold Rush Days celebrations. We hoped to get a good spot to watch the parade that was to start at 10:00 a.m. On the way Jim mentioned that he thought he’d read that there could be something like 200,000 people show up! Wow, I couldn’t imagine getting through a crowd like that in that small town. Did I really want to go?
We arrived before 9:00 a.m. and spent twenty minutes following the many signs pointing to parking areas, only to find them already full. We eventually drove across the bridge and found a spot on a residential side street. It was a bit of a hike back to the downtown, but the weather was still a little cool, and we’re thankful that we can still walk distances without pain.
Remember the almost empty streets that were in my pictures of our previous trip to Wickenburg? This is what the corner near the old railway station (now the Chamber of Commerce) looked like when we arrived on Saturday.
We were lucky enough to get spots to stand behind a couple of rows of people who had their chairs already set up, but directly across from the judges stand and announcer. Hollywood actor Stuntman and trick roper, Will Roberts, was just finishing up his roping performance. A few children were practicing the skills he’d taught them.
While we waited for the parade to reach us, this fellow strolled down the route, shaking hands and posing for photos. Not quite sure what he has to do with the Gold Rush Days, but young and old alike jumped in for the photo op!
The announcer kept us informed and entertained while we waited. He told us that the usual number of people in attendance at this parade was (only) between thirty and fifty thousand, depending on the weather.
For an hour and a half we stood watching the parade of 78 entries that began with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Motorcycles and ended with the Wickenburg Fire and Police Departments. In between there were entries representing the local schools, car clubs, riding clubs, museums, saddle clubs and businesses and many, many horses and mules. The high school provided the only band. The Grand Marshal was World Champion Cowboy, Cody Custer, a Wickenburg native.
Part way through the parade, when there was a bit of a gap, the announcer asked if there were any people in the crowd from another country and we put up our hands. He took us out into the street and told Jim to say something so they could guess where we were from.
“Well, we’re not from America…”
Before he could finish the sentence the announcer said, “You don’t sound any different than us.”
Jim tried again. “We’re not from America,” and we both said “eh?”
The crowd yelled, “Canada!” and applauded.
What’s a Parade without the Shriners?
These ladies put on shows to raise money for the American Legion
Whew! I think I took way to many pictures. These are just a sample, but I won’t bore you with more of the parade. It was sure a different parade. I really enjoyed it.
Once the last of the parade had passed by us, we wandered down the street to see what there was to eat at the vendor stalls and then watched people go by while we sat on a wooden bench to eat our breakfast burritos.
A few blocks further was a huge arts and crafts show, crowded with people looking at unique art, jewelry, wood work and various other things. If I’d had an Arizona house and some extra cash I’d have a blast decorating it with some of the art.
By the time we’d gotten through all that, an hour later, it was time for more food. We made our way back to the main street and got one of the last vacant booths at Rancho Bar 7 Restaurant.
From there we turned back toward the craft vendors and came across the midway. We just caught the last song of our favourite band, Come Back Buddy, performing on-stage. We wandered through the midway, and then returned to the stage area to watch Will Roberts’ complete show.
If we’d had the time, and a hotel room, it would have been fun to stay for the evening entertainment, but we didn’t. So, before our feet gave out on us, we made our way back to our car and left for home, the end of another fun adventure in sunny Arizona.