The Bucking Horse Sale Parade & the Snot-Nosed Blake Kids


My brother-in-law taught his Kelpie puppy to walk on the treadmill to burn energy.  But that doesn’t have anything to do with the World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale or with the snot-nosed Blake kids.

Or does it?

The kids and I recently spent the weekend of the annual Bucking Horse Sale with my sister and her family at their home in Miles City.  This is when we witnessed firsthand the excitable but intelligent Kelpie exercising on the treadmill.  The main reason we were in town, though, was to take in the Bucking Horse Sale Parade, in which my 10-year-old niece Taylor rode a 5-foot-tall unicycle.

The father of an alum of Taylor’s private Catholic elementary school coaches interested students from the school in the art of unicycle riding.  Taylor has been riding for a couple years now and recently graduated to the taller variety.  She rides along with a group of her peers in parades and half-time shows.  They do all sorts of tricks — patterns that involve the whole team, little jumps they ride over.  They can even hold hands while they ride.  A couple of her schoolmates skip the unicycle and instead walk on stilts to complete the show.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

Anyhow, they were all in the Bucking Horse Sale Parade.  Taylor had to be in line for the parade shortly after 9:00 on Saturday morning.  My sister (Aunt Sue) and I loaded my kids and Taylor in the car and headed for downtown Miles City none too early.  The back streets were so clogged with potential parade entries — think classic cars, horses and mules of every size, shape, and color, marching bands, etc. — that we couldn’t get Taylor to her destination and instead had to drop her off and let her run the last couple blocks to meet her schoolmates.  Then Sue and I hoofed it with my three littles toward Main Street, which was already swarming with people.  We didn’t want to be burdened by too much extra baggage for the walk to the curb, so opted to leave my camera behind and take only Sue’s.  She promised she would share her pictures of the parade with me.  Then, about halfway through the parade, she realized that her camera had no memory card in it.

And that is why the Kelpie is the only proof I have that the snot-nosed Blake kids attended the Bucking Horse Sale Parade.

I guess it was our first parade of any significance.  Whatever the reason, I certainly didn’t realize until that day that parades are absolutely the dirtiest thing you can do with your kids.

Where do the kids sit for a parade?  On the curb of the sidewalk.  What is the curb adjacent to?  The street gutter.  What goes into the gutter?  All the gunk that comes off of every tire and every shoe that goes by.  What do people like to throw at parades?  Sticky candy.  It’s a recipe for uncleanliness, folks.

We ended up sitting amongst a gaggle of kids we didn’t know, and though my kids were rookies at the whole deal in the beginning, they soon caught on to the run-out-in-front-of-traffic-to-retrieve-a-Tootsie-Roll-and-throw-a-hip-check-on-that-other-little-girl trick.  Competition for candy was fierce there on our section of the street.  At one point, 3-year-old Emi got caught up in the excitement of following one especially generous float as it made its way down the street and had soon moved out of my eyesight with the throng.  I had a moment of standing and peering for her amongst the throbbing faces, then looking down at the baby (who was sitting on the curb eating a cigarette stub, oblivious to the wad of Starburst that was stuck to her chin), then looking back in the direction in which my lost 3-year-old had disappeared, then back to the baby again, and finally deciding I better take the baby with me to look for the 3-year-old lest I lose both of them, throwing the baby onto my hip and heading downstream to where Emi was holding up traffic as she stood in the middle of the street, Jolly Ranchers clutched in her fists, looking into the faces of the crowd with this look on her face:  No one here looks very familiar.  I pulled her back to our part of the gutter by her ear.

We had, of course, neglected to bring along any sort of bag for the candy, so the kids started filling their ball caps with it — and with random blades of grass, crumpled leaves from last fall, and other paraphernalia from the curb.  Though they ate the candy as fast as a 5- and 3-year-old can be expected to chaw through a Laffy Taffy, their caps filled up fast.  Some floats handed out water bottles, some balloons.  Between dispersing sips of water, holding balloons, unwrapping candy, and trying to manage the trash situation, I had a hard time keeping track of the baby, who would toddle out to grab a nearby sugary treasure then use her six freshly-minted teeth to nibble through the wrapper to the treat inside.  She ate more paper that day than she does most.

Their hands and cheeks just got stickier and stickier.  The stickier they became, the more readily the trash from the gutter — sticks, dirt, cigarette butts, candy wrappers — stuck to them.  And to top it all off, they all had runny noses that day, which only heightened the repulsion of the situation.

Who knew parades could be so stressful for moms?  You know those dirt-streaked, snot-nosed, buck-toothed kids you see every once in a while, at a rodeo or something, and you swear to yourself that you will always take better care of your kids than that?

Well, honey, don’t make any promises you can’t keep.  I’m here to tell you:  things can deteriorate pretty quickly.

I was feeling plenty stimulated, definitely ready to tie them all together, by the time the last drummer drummed and the last classic tractor clickety-clacked by.  But oh no — it was on to the park after the parade, where Taylor joined us and where we managed to find a free bouncy house with a booth next to it offering free snow-cones and free cotton candy.  Oh, goody, did we take advantage of that free situation.

I wish I had pictures to share of the day, but between me and Sue, we could only keep track of so many things… and my camera and her memory card didn’t make the cut.  It’s too bad, though, that my kids will never have proof that they attended the first, last, and only parade we will ever attend.

© Tami Blake

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