By: Hillary Sloane
I love the backstory to a parade. Whenever I had a chance to hang out in Pasadena, I would watch members of the community patch last minute flowers in the Rose Bowl floats, and the band practices their tunes and steps, enjoying the sight of batons flying, brightly colored costumes and makeup adorned. The excitement and anticipation of the gathering crowd and members of the parade were contagious.
I had the same feeling on Saturday morning, May 27th, when I got to Yucca Trail early and found the Rodeo Queens: Tiny Miss, Kaylin Moon, Little Miss, Shayne Graner, Junior, Taylor Romeros, and Queen, Serenity Mitchell preparing themselves and their horses for the parade. Serenity Mitchell was braiding her horses tail. Kaylin’s mom, Heather Moon, and sister Teagan were helping with all the last minute preparations. Everyone was excited.
The Grubstake Parade is a tradition that started in 1950 and still exists. Although parts of the celebration, like the Rodeo and some of the contests and tournaments, have been lost over the years, the parade is still the heart of the Valley and revered by JTGC locals.
This year, with the tireless work of volunteers like Missy Buchanan and Tracy Rader who brought back the Rodeo and many of the weekend events, the Parade and its three days of family celebration were as dazzling as ever.
This year the events were a Business Decorating Contest, Western Mixer and Dance, Chamber Challenge Golf Tournament, Pancake Breakfast, Parade, Carnival, Town of Yucca Valley 10K/5K Run & 2K Walk, Rodeo, Beard Contest, Tug of War, Horseshoe Tournament, Pony Express Ride postcards, and Kids' Day
Tracy Rader handled the Carnival and kid games. Missy Buchanan, as Rodeo Secretary made sure the Rodeo was handled at pro level and followed pro rules.
In the early fifties, the parade recorded over 1000 visitor, including many celebrities. The guest count was smaller this year, but participation and excitement from the community and local vendors along the route was high. A group gathered outside of Rainbow Stew and Route 62 Vintage Marketplace. Owners and customers were waving and cheering.
The theme of the parade was ‘Celebrating Our Western Heritage,’ and included the Marine Corps Color Guard and Grand Marshals, Art Miller Jr and Ed Hardesty along with a wide array of horses, floats, vintage cars, military and emergency vehicles, Joshua Tree National Park representatives and much more.
Yucca Valley Mayor Merl Abel and his Wife Dori Abel waved to the crowd from their car. Assemblyman Chad Mayes from the 42nd district rode in his vehicle and waved.
Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith walked with park rangers, and park volunteers, including Search and Rescue volunteers.
The Maine Corp Air Ground Combat Center provided vehicles and Marines who participated in the festivities.
Billy Mitchell, owner of The Rattle Snake Ranch along with his wife, Julie Mitchell, his daughter Serenity Mitchell, Rodeo Queen, rode Horses with the pride of 7 generations cattle ranchers.
Two of my favorite floats was the little school house representing Yucca Mesa Elementary School and a recycled jail created by the staff at the Elite Cosmetology School.
I wasn’t able to attend the Rodeo, but now that I have been to the parade I know I will make it a yearly tradition and include all the events.
I'm looking forward to next year.
Joshua Tree Gateway Communities