Since 1955, the Sam Houston Trail Riders have been making the 70 mile trip from Montgomery to Houston as part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo festivities.
Tuesday was the second day of this year's ride and meant riding through Tomball on the way to Spring Creek Park for a two-night layover. Sam Houston Trail Boss Earl Blackmon has been on this ride for almost 20 years and says there's nothing like it.
"It's a great experience,” Blackmon said. "Weeks off to ride in the great outdoors and through great towns like Tomball with all the nice people who come out to say hello. It's really special.”
It was special for Alexis Korioth, a high school senior who received a $1,000 scholarship from the trail riders, a tradition that has raised thousands of dollars and has helped many other students through the years.
“That's another reason why this Sam Houston Trail Ride is so special,” said Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan. "They're not just riding through town. Their providing real help for some of the young people in our community who need it.”
There were many glimpses of the future around as children were being pushed in strollers, carried by parents or walking on young chubby legs to get close to the horses and wagons as the crews took a break.
Avery Brown, 2, waved to her uncle Dave, who made his annual trip from North Dakota to be a part of the action.
Tuesday was a 16 mile segment of the 70 miles they will travel before hitting the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade on Saturday. The 76 Ranch wagon and its riders will be there Saturday but Tuesday was special as they all dressed in pink to honor the request of team leader Bonnie Black, who lost a good friend to breast cancer seven years ago.
“Every one of us has lost someone or knows someone who has been impacted by breast cancer, “said Stephen Benner, who very much looked the part in white hat with pink feathers, pink shirt and pink chaps. “This is the day when we call attention to the need for more research and everyone one of us, men and women, feel great to be dressed in pink today.”
That may be so, but within an hour of arriving at the park, the pink was gone, the wagon stripped bare of its pink frills and the riders from all the teams were heading to showers, campfires or restaurants to wind down for the night and looking ahead to two nights of parties before making the final push to Houston starting Thursday.