February 21, 2019
Each year, more than 200,000 people enjoy the western-themed floats and buggies, historic horse-drawn coaches, festive Mexican folk dancers, marching bands and outfitted riders. The route begins at Park Avenue and Ajo Way, continues south to Irvington Road, then heads west on Irvington Road to South 6th Avenue.
Grandstands for viewing are located on Irvington at South 6th Avenue. See tickets for information for Grandstand tickets. Viewing along both sides of the route, which stretches just over a mile, is available at no charge.
Visitors to Tucson can explore the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum. Located on the northeast corner of S. Sixth Ave. and Irvington Road, the large building was originally the first city airport hanger, established in 1918. It was dedicated November 20, 1919 and was referred to as the Mayse Airport.
There are over one hundred buggies and wagons on display as well as a continually growing collection of Old West artifacts. There is a typical western street with various shops, and historical memorabilia of Tucson.
For more information on the Tucson Rodeo Parade and Museum, contact the Tucson Rodeo Parade at (520) 294-1280 or visit www.tucsonrodeoparade.com.
Tucson Rodeo Parade History
THE WORLD’S LONGEST NON-MOTORIZED PARADE HIGHLIGHTS TUCSON’S LA FIESTA DE LOS VAQUEROS
Excerpt from a reporter’s 1925 account of the first Tucson Rodeo Parade:
“It was Saturday, February 21, 1925 and in Tucson, Arizona, excitement was everywhere. This community of 34 thousand souls was getting ready for a thing called La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the Celebration of the Cowboys. Thousands of visitors had arrived for the festivities and rooms were as scarce as snowdrifts. Cowpokes drifted in to pay their entrance fees, parade contestants turned up to register and long lines of prospective spectators waited to buy tickets for the western show. The sun had just begun to peek through gray skies raising the mercury to a comfortable 68 degrees. An eager crowd lined the route and 300 persons waited to fall into procession. Gear was checked, horses calmed, hats adjusted, drumheads tightened. The signal was given promptly at 10:30 and the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros parade moved out onto Congress Street and headed east.”
Each February since 1925, Tucsonans and local groups and businesses saddle their horses, hitch up their buggies and shine their cowboy boots for the “Celebration of the Cowboys.” The Tucson Rodeo Parade begins at Park Ave. and Ajo Way and ends at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.
Locals, however, did not greet the first rodeo and parade, with enthusiasm. Many of the citizens flatly stated the staging of a rodeo and parade as too pretentious. Many were heard to exclaim,” There is absolutely no reason to have a rodeo let alone a parade.” After all, most of the streets were dirt, no stop signs existed, the radio and phonograph were popular, no one had natural gas for heating, the schools were strict, church socials and musicals were in vogue… yes, it was a quiet and peaceful life. Who needed a rodeo and parade? The entire city is surrounded by a rodeo everyday at all the ranches and private schools. Even though some businessmen though the rodeo and parade were a waste of time; even though some of the city fathers refused to back the rodeo and parade, both were a huge success.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade is the community’s most beloved tradition, and remains Tucson’s finest display of the Old West. Area schools are closed on Parade Day each year, and many local businesses close in order to participate in the parade with an entry. Over 200 floats are entered each year. The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee, a 36-member volunteer board, plans and executes the parade, with the cooperation of the City of Tucson.