In their attempts to make the annual Cody Stampede Rodeo parade grander than ever before, the Stampede Rodeo Committee and the Parade Committee are designating several grand marshals.
Rather than the more commonly used single marshal to headline the July 3-4 parades, this year’s 100th anniversary celebration of the holiday rodeo will feature a half-dozen Legends of Rodeo.
This star-studded cast has direct ties to the sport rather than Hollywood actors who have appeared in western movies.
The lead float is scheduled to include world champions Donnie Gay, Dusty Tuckness, Larry Mahan and Dan Mortensen, but other past rodeo stars Deb Greenough, Scott Breding and Kanin Asay could be featured as well.
Tuckness is the reigning nine-time world bullfighting title-holder.
He is from Meeteetse. Greenough competed for Northwest College. Breding is from nearby Edgar, Mont. Asay is from Powell. Mortensen is from Billings. Tuckness, Gay and Mahan were individual parade marshals in the past.
“They will be the first cowboys,” said Stampede copresident Mike Darby.
The Stampede Committee did flirt with trying to bring in a Hollywood star as a grand marshal, but never got past talking the idea over with agents who demanded high prices for their client to appear.
“At the end of the day, the people we have truly wanted to be here and we’re honored to have them here,” Darby said.
Who is up front is only part of the western-themed show. The goal was to expand the size of the parade and make sure it really expressed the spirit of the rodeo created to honor William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
Other guests expected are the clown duo of Butch Lemkuler and Rich Reinert who spent two decades-plus entertaining Cody rodeo fans.
“They’re as much of this 100-year celebration as anybody,” said Jim Facinelli, the 49-year board member who has been acting as Stampede Committee liaison with the Parade Committee.
The line of floats should be two-and-a-half to three blocks long, Facinelli said.
One float will include current board members, with four of them carrying commemorative Henry rifles.
“We’re flashing them around, not loaded,” Facinelli said.
Another float will feature living former board members and it is estimated 25-30 will participate.
A rather ancient, age-appropriate buggy will carry a Buffalo Bill lookalike in local thespian Pete Simpson and Linda Cody, a member of the Cody family dressed as Louisa, Buffalo Bill’s wife, Facinelli said.
In addition to a Stampede Rodeo history float, Facinelli said, there will be floats for past rodeo queens, the 307 Renegade Riders, the mechanical bull usually stationed in front of the stands at Stampede Park, the yellow Yellowstone National Park touring car, and a Cody Nite Rodeo float.
The longtime Cody Nite Rodeo car, which tours town at lunchtime and dinnertime to hype up the Nite Rodeo for tourists, has finally bit the dust with an unknown number of miles on it. No more red Cadillac. The replacement is a powder blue Thunderbird, just starting to make the daily rounds. The parade appearance will be more or less a real coming out party for the late 1960s model.
“It’s a pretty car,” Facinelli said.
The usual cross-section of civic groups should have a presence, although Joy Gonion, who handles entries for the Parade Committee, said she expects requests to come in right up to the last days.
Some of the group floats are expected to include a mounted color guard representing the military, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a float with prominent Wyoming elected officials, the Shriners, the senior center, and various dance and theatre groups.
The major parades of July 3-4 start at 9:30 a.m. each day, while the July 2 Kiddie Parade, begins at 10 a.m.
“It will show the true fabric of rodeo that makes this so special in Cody,” Darby said. “It basically depicts what our rodeo is to the real world.”