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What to watch for at Westward Ho!

Non-motorized parade begins at 10 a.m. in Pendleton
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on September 14, 2017 6:40PM

Last changed on September 14, 2017 9:30PM

The Happy Canyon fire department puts on a show during the Westward Ho! Parade in Pendleton.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

The Happy Canyon fire department puts on a show during the Westward Ho! Parade in Pendleton.

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The Pendleton Round-Up commences its historical Westward Ho! Parade at 10 a.m. Friday with a cannon blast and ends it with the whistling tones of a calliope.

Between those acoustic opposites come horse hooves, wooden wagons and marching bands, but not a single engine. The hour-plus-long procession prohibits motorized vehicles.

The same goes for mascots, air-inflated rubber tires, and the carrying of “advertising or promotional material of any kind,” according to the official rules. Serapes and banners are OK for identifying a group or a rider, but those signs cannot be larger than 12 inches by 24 inches or the equal amount in square inches.

Parade participants often don vintage dress and costumes. Randy Thomas, publicity director for the Round-Up Board, has described the parade as a “rolling museum of historical significance.”

Mike Thorne will lead the parade this year as the grand marshal. The former state Democratic senator from Pendleton and executive director for the Port of Portland has a life-long association with the Round-Up, having served as a volunteer as young man and later as a director.

“Certainly it’s unique ... a one-of-a-kind parade,” Thorne said. “It is steeped in tradition and history.”

Some of the more distinct entries, he said, are the teams of horses pulling wagons and old farm equipment that was used not just in Eastern Oregon but throughout the United States. Parade watchers, he said, can come away with an appreciation of how pioneers worked and lived.

Grand marshals have a choice of riding in a horse-drawn buggy or riding a horse. Thorne said he will be horseback.

The parade gets rolling on Southwest Dorion Avenue and Fourth Street in front of Pendleton City Hall, moves east through the downtown corridor, and turns on Southeast Fifth Street behind the Umatilla County Courthouse to head west on Court Avenue. The event ends at the Round-Up Grounds.

The Westward Ho! Parade is popular with Oregon politicians. Gov. Kate Brown will return this year, and fellow Democrat Tina Kotek, Speaker of the House, makes her debut in the parade.

State Sen. Bill Hansell, Republican of Athena, is again in the parade, but his state House Republican counterpart won’t be. Greg Barreto of Cove is in town, but his wife and assistant, Chris Barreto, said she missed the deadline for the parade application. The Round-Up board was willing to find a way to fit in the representative, she said, but jostling entries at the last moment would not have been fair.

Next year, she said, they will get that application in on time.

Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation make a strong showing each year and show some of the sharpest horsemanship in the spectacle.

Local high school marching bands often are crowd favorites, as are the plethora of visiting rodeo queens and courts and their fine steeds.

Miniature ponies, paints and Texas longhorn are among the abundance of livestock the Westward Ho! Parade showcases. All the farm animals mean road apples are common and why the Round-Up urge those entries to have only dry feed for the two days prior.


Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.


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