Salt Grass riders hit trail to Houston Rodeo

HOUSTON – Thousands of trail riders are taking part in the annual trek to the Houston Rodeo.

That includes those in the Salt Grass Trail, which has been a Houston tradition for decades.

For 66 years the Salt Grass Trail ride has been stopping traffic and delighting children.

"When I grow up I want to be a cowboy," Lakuedis Mays said.

In 1963, John Burns was one of those kids.

"The parade would go down Memorial Drive. I was looking out the classroom window at 'em, I'm thinking, 'I need to be on that ride. I don't know what it is, but I need to be there,'" Burns said.

Burns has been riding ever since.

Larry Romeo got there by a different route: He was a city kid who got into construction first and then into horses.

"Bought a ranch and had to get some horses to work the cows. Got cows and had to get horses to work the cows. (That's when he) started riding horses," Romeo said.

The Salt Grass began as a publicity stunt in 1952. The brainchild of a public relations man, Channel 2 general manager at the time, Jack Harris, and the mayor of Brenham.

They wanted to promote what was then called the Houston Fat Stock Show using the new medium of television.

One of those who made the first ride was KPRC's news director Pat Flarhety, who shot film and filed daily reports.

Houston loved it.

Within two years, the Salt Grass had 800 riders and kept growing.

Now it's a Houston tradition.

"My grandchildren will be out tomorrow. They're 2 and 3 years old and their parents are starting them," Burns said.