TERRE HAUTE —
America’s birthday party kicked off to the sound of hoof beats Wednesday morning, as more than a hundred horses and their riders weathered the heat, celebrating Terre Haute’s 67th Annual Frontier Day Parade.
Ninety-five entrants trotted along the route from Fourth and Cherry streets, down Wabash Avenue and up Ninth Street, bringing carriages and antique tractors along for the ride.
Hundreds of spectators sought the shade of store canopies as temperatures were in the upper 80s well before noon on a 100-degree day.
The Wabash Valley Horseman’s Association dates back to its founding March 24, 1945.
Parade committee member Sharon Hartman stood on the reviewing stand near First Financial Bank, trying to remember a hotter season than 2012.
“This is probably one of the warmer we’ve had,” she said.
But a little sweat didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits, with participants dressed in western wear, vying for a number of prizes.
Jack Roberts was named 2012 King of the Cowboys, with Emily Edington winning 2012 Frontier Gal.
According to information provided by parade chairwoman Christina Durham-Muncy, Roberts has participated in the Frontier Day, Cory and Riley parades for more than 20 years, volunteered with local 4-H horse clubs and helped found the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department’s mounted posse.
Edington began riding at age 3 and has participated in the Frontier Day Parade for 16 years. A 10-year 4-H member herself, she now volunteers as an adult leader while working at Thompson Farm with their quarter horses. A St. Mary-of-the-Woods College student, she minors in equine studies.
This year’s oldest riders were Tony Dragon, 75, and Bill Grimes, 72.
Durham-Muncy said organizers hope to continue building on the parade’s multi-generational tradition.
“We hope the parade each year can be bigger and better than the last year, adding more spectators too,” she said.
This year’s festivities included three new categories, including “Judge’s Choice” won by Jason Sample, the “Retta Mason Helping Hand Award” won by Hartman, and the “Most Creative” won by Payton and Bailey Halloran.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and his wife, Pam, threw candy from a bicycle-drawn carriage as four police officers led the way on motorcycles.
Lance Fagin, 11, got his first taste of parade showmanship, driving a 1952 Farmall Cub tractor bearing an American flag on back.
“It was fun,” he said, adding he’ll show pigs at the Vigo County 4-H Fair next week, in addition to participating in the threshing demonstration hosted by the antique tractor club. This was his first year to ride a tractor in the parade, and fun as it was, he said other plans were in store for the afternoon. “Probably jump in the pool when I get home,” he said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.