Calvin Dominguez said he has been coming to the rodeo Stock Show kickoff parade all his life — so many times he’s lost count.
“Maybe this is number. 15 or 20,” Dominguez, 29, of Crowley, said.
The parade has gotten bigger and more diverse since the first time he attended as a child, but beyond that not much has changed, Dominguez said.
For many, a visit to the Fort Worth parade is like a journey back in time.
“This is the West,” said Joe Pintavalle, a 64-year-old Lake Jackson resident. “This is what I grew up watching on TV. This is cowboy country. It’s history.”
The Stock Show and Rodeo can be traced back to a 1896 beginning, but the earliest records officials have of the parade being held in Fort Worth are from 1909, said Matt Brockman, Stock Show spokesman.
The rodeo parade is likely older than that; but Stock Show officials don’t know for sure, according to Brockman. In some respects, he said, probably very little has changed since the first parade, whenever it might have occurred.
“There are no motorized vehicles in the parade,” Brockman said. “It lends a certain style to the parade. You will not see as many large floats. But it has a Western flair to it. It certainly typifies not only the spirit of Fort Worth, but the mystique of Fort Worth.”
Parade officials once had access to detailed archives, but many of those records were destroyed during floods that occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, Brockman said.
A lot of the history that remains is chronicled in a book called, “A Hundred Years of Heroes,” written by Clay Reynolds for the Stock Show’s centennial celebration that was held in 1996, Brockman said.
Reynolds reported that Quanah Parker, along with contingencies from the Comanche and Kiowa tribes, participated in that 1909 parade. Parker led a band of Comanche warriors who eventually surrendered to Western settlers after years of fighting them, according to the Texas State Historical Association handbook.
This year, the parade had 150 entries, Brockman said.
Entries included horse-drawn carriages, marching bands and area riding clubs. Several of the riding clubs had a distinct Hispanic or African-American flair, and the riders smiled and waved at families watching along the sidewalks, some who held tiny Confederate flags.
Stock Show officials banned the Sons of Confederate Veterans from displaying the Confederate battle flag, which it had done in years before, in 2016, but this year as in past years, some people passed them out among the crowd.
One man passing out Confederate flags identified himself as Dave and declined to give his last name. Dave said the Confederate flag is part of his history and that his ancestors fought in the Civil War.
“I love the South and I’m proud of it,” Dave said.
Many Americans view the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism and violence, and it has fallen out of favor in many places.
Rob Evans, 46, of Grand Prairie, an African-American man who has also attended several Fort Worth rodeo parades, said he did not pay much attention to the Confederate flags. Evans said that he appreciates the parade organizers keeping the flags out of the parade itself, but that he understands that nothing could be done to further restrict members of the public from displaying the flag.
“It’s a minority of people who are doing it,” Evans said. “You can’t change people.”