Grabbing her wet pink cowgirl boots adorned with Disney princesses, 5-year-old Italia Rios didn’t seem to mind the rain as she gaped at lines of horses, floats and shiny cars in the annual Clovis Rodeo Parade on Saturday morning.
“Mama I want one of those!” she exclaimed three separate times within 10 minutes, pointing at the procession snaking through downtown Clovis. The showy, distinctly western display made her feel “nice” — especially the horses.
“I like the horses because they are nice,” Italia said.
Italia was one of hundreds at the parade who crowded under umbrellas to enjoy the show. The National Weather Service reported that 0.86 of an inch of rain fell in Clovis by 12:45 p.m.
Parade announcer John Marr said that while the event was smaller this year, the parade still featured at least 150 floats.
“It was still a good turnout despite the weather,” Marr said. “That’s part of the dedication of Clovis, it’s something that’s representative of, you could say, the Clovis way of life. People come out and support Clovis, which is great. … I think it’s a tribute to the people of Clovis, really, having everyone out here supporting this. Obviously it’s a long tradition.”
The parade was a cornerstone of the 101st annual Clovis Rodeo. Rodeo officials said the first Clovis Rodeo Parade was held in 1914 and was started by the Clovis Women’s Club.
Wearing matching tan cowgirl hats and huddled beneath a leopard-print umbrella, Belinda Gamblin and her 10-year-old niece Aliva were among those braving the rain Saturday.
Gamblin, a Back Country Horsemen member, Madera ranch owner and longtime parade-goer, said of the spectacle: “It’s good clean family fun.”
Another horse lover — 9-year-old Cambria Cook of Clovis, who owns a horse named “Jewel” — has come to the parade every year with her family. Seeing all the horses parade through town made her feel “happy.”
Her take on the parade: “It’s fun!”
Standing nearby, Margarita Rios was enjoying the parade for the first time — “a new way of enjoying life” — with her young daughters Italia and Jazelle.
The Fresno State student who grew up in Merced loves how much Clovis loves its rodeo. She said the community spirit of coming together is a great example for her daughters. “I would love for them to be active, too, and get involved.”
Phillip Brown, Cambria’s uncle, came from Marin County to enjoy the parade with his wife, who was raised in Clovis. He missed the marching bands, who weren’t able to perform because of the rain, but otherwise “enjoyed it thoroughly.”
He said there was something “very catching” about seeing hundreds of people enjoying the parade despite the wet weather.
“I really appreciate that,” Brown said. “It’s something you don’t see in the Bay Area. It was really fantastic.”