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Mayor Walkup picked as parade grand marshal

Citizen Staff Writer



The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee on Thursday announced that Mayor Bob Walkup will be the grand marshal of the 84th annual parade.

The event, billed as the longest nonmotorized parade in the country, will be held Feb. 26.

It will be led by Walkup, who will ride on a horse-drawn wagon just behind a color guard escorting the U.S. flag.

Walkup was named grand marshal at a reception hosting about 100 rodeo enthusiasts, Tucson business people, politicians and area ranchers. The reception was held at the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum, at South Sixth Avenue and Irvington Road.

As he walked to the podium Thursday, pioneer Tucson businesswoman Cele Peterson, who turns 100 next month, took an apparently light-hearted jab at President Obama’s Cabinet and then-nominees for top posts, some of whom have had problems that surfaced after their nominations to high office.

“Are you vetted?” she asked in a loud, sharp voice.

“I am greatly honored to be grand marshal,” Walkup said from the podium.

He was given a plaque, a bola tie and a Western hat by Bob Owen, the parade committee chairman.

Walkup recalled the 2006 Tucson Rodeo Parade crash in which a runaway wagon hit the carriage he and his wife, Beth, were in, injuring his wife.

The mayor then recalled 5-year-old Brielle Boisvert of Elgin, killed the next year when a runaway wagon team knocked her from her horse and the wagon wheels ran over her.

“Some thought it would be the last parade,” Walkup said.

“But, this is what Tucson is all about,” Walkup said. “This is going to go on another 20, 30, 40 years.”

After the child’s death, the city enacted rules aimed at making the parade safer and has more strictly enforced laws banning fireworks and other noisemakers. Other rules are aimed at keeping spectators out of the street during the parade.

Bob Stewart, a rodeo parade committee spokesman, said that by Thursday, 132 entrants had registered for the parade. There were 128 entrants last year and 184 in 2007.

Rodeo week events begin Feb. 21 and culminate March 1.

Tickets for the parade can be bought up until parade time at the Rodeo Parade Museum office, 4823 S. Park Ave., or through the parade committee’s Web site, www.tucsonrodeoparade.org.

Tickets are $4 for children under 13 and $6 for all others.

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