FORT WORTHA little rain and cold could not deter Randall Brown from attending one of his favorite traditions, the All Western Parade.
“They just call this Stock Show weather,” said Brown, of Fort Worth, wearing a white cowboy hat.
Brown was among the thousands who lined the downtown streets on Saturday to cheer on the unofficial kickoff to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
Paradegoers huddled under blankets and sipped hot chocolate, as the temperature hovered in the 30s most of the morning.
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Some 150 groups from Texas and beyond marched in the nearly two-hour parade, which was led as always by the Fort Worth Mounted Patrol. Entries included horse-drawn carriages, marching bands, vintage trolleys and area riding clubs.
Organizers bill the event as the country’s largest nonmotorized parade.
For the second year in a row, some paradegoers handed out Confederate flags in response to the Stock Show’s decision last year to ban the Sons of Confederate Veterans from displaying the Confederate battle flag, which it had done in past years.
Many Americans view the flag as a symbol of racism and violence, and it has fallen out of favor in some places.
Despite the ban, some parade participants were waving the flag on Saturday. Stock Show spokesman Matt Brockman said that the policy remains in effect but that enforcement can be complicated.
“The Stock Show is not a political organization,” Brockman said. “We are a place that celebrates our connections to the livestock industry and Western way of life.”
Waving a large Confederate battle flag, Kevin Sullivan said the flag is a way to honor the history and heritage of his ancestors.
“It’s not about hate,” said Sullivan, of Olney, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth. “The Sons of Confederate Veterans does not promote intolerance.”
Nearby, Alex and Arely Mora waited to catch a glimpse of their father, Octavio, riding with Ranchos Unidos, a dancing horse group. Their mother, Deary Mora, said the parade has become a family tradition since their father joined the group four years ago.
“It’s festive and happy,” Alex Mora said. “It’s very relaxed, which we like.”
For Brown, the parade is a way to celebrate Fort Worth’s laid-back cowboy culture.
“I love this parade, and I love this city,” he said. “I’m proud to be from Fort Worth.”