Longhorns, horses, cowboys and Santa were just a few of the highlights featured Saturday in the Cowboy Christmas Parade in Stockyards City.
Spectators gathered on the pleasantly warm first day of December to watch as participants paraded through the streets of the historic section of Oklahoma City.
A herd of longhorns and horse riders led the parade to the delight of the crowd.
“I took a picture of it,” said Brian Vogeler, who came to the parade with his church youth group. “I was just amazed.”
Bree Schwarte, 22, who was there with friends after they participated in the National Reining Horse Association's Futurity competition in Oklahoma City, said the parade offered a glimpse at what life in Stockyards City once must have been like.
“I think it's kind of cool to see a blast from the past,” Schwarte said.
Parade Executive Director Cookie Hill said that was precisely organizers' intent.
“The parade is about the preservation of our history,” Hill said.
A look at the past
In 1910, Oklahoma's forefathers founded meatpacking plants in Stockyards City, then a cattle exchange two years later, Hill said.
“The Oklahoma national cattle exchange is the largest cattle market in the country, and it's right behind us,” said Hill, who was born and raised in Stockyards City. Cattle being ushered through the streets allowed parade spectators to imagine what it was like when herds of cattle were driven to market on hoof 102 years ago.
Hill said many of the shops and buildings in the city are just as old.
Stacey Bohannan, manager of McClintock Heritage Collection on Exchange Avenue, watched the parade from her store window, surrounded by handmade cowboy boots and the fragrance of leather and perfume.
The store has been open for 12 years, but the building that houses the western wear and accessories shop has stood for more than 100 years.
Bohannan said the parade helps boost the economy by drawing visitors from all over the world who want to learn, eat and shop in Stockyards City.
“I've been here for four years and I can say that this year I saw the biggest crowd,” Bohannan said.
Shortly after the parade, a line formed outside of Cattlemen's Steakhouse on Agnew Ave. The restaurant opened in 1910 and has been featured on television shows and in national magazines.
Hill said the parade has been going on for more years than any one organizer can remember.
The parade is a product of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street program, a national effort to improve organization, design, promotion and economic growth of historic cities throughout the United States.
Hill, who is involved in the Main Street program, has been executive director of the parade for three months but has been actively involved in organizing the event for six years.
“I love this area,” she said. “It's truly a very special place.”