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Floats fill downtown for a sassy spectacle

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By Joe Vaccarelli

Horses, floats and firefighters graced the streets of Evergreen during Saturday’s Rodeo Parade, as a crowd of 3,000 gathered on a beautiful 75-degree day to watch the annual Western-themed walk.

“It gets better every year,” said spectator Casey Downare.

The parade sauntered down Highway 74 into downtown, where three judges sized up the floats based on crowd appeal, originality and use of this year’s theme, Belles and Bulls. The Evergreen High Poms won a $50 cash prize, and three more prizes were awarded later.

Floats featured firefighters spraying the crowd, equestrian groups, the Boy Scouts, and even Evergreen Septic Pumping, which, as announcer Doug Mathis put it, is “No. 1 at working with your No. 2.”

The judges were thoroughly impressed with all the participants.

“It was a great parade, a lot of variety and humor. Good imagination,” said Steve Sumner, executive director of the Center for the Arts Evergreen and one of this year’s judges.

John Skeel, director of the Evergreen Parks and Recreation District and another judge, also was impressed.

“It was awesome. There were great performances. I had a really good time,” Skeel said.

Another person who enjoyed the parade was Mathis.

“This rodeo parade is the best I’ve ever been to because the people really get into it,” Mathis said.

Mathis, a professional rodeo announcer from Texas who is on the road 47 weeks out of the year, has been announcing the Evergreen Rodeo and Parade for a half-dozen years.

“This is really like home for me,” he said. “Although I tell people I’m from a rodeo near you.”

Parade participants were up early on Saturday, as many volunteers and staff arrived as early as 7 a.m. to prepare for the 10 a.m. start.

“One of our biggest challenges is the lineup,” said Pam Hinish, last year’s rodeo chairwoman, who was working at the check-in station this year. “We don’t want horses lining up near loud music; the order is a challenge.” Hinish allowed that finding volunteers to clean up after the horses also can be a challenge.

“I’ve been a part of it almost every year since I moved to Evergreen in 1972,” said Darci Acklin, who once again walked in the procession. “I feel like I’m giving back to the community that gave a lot to me as a kid.”