A group of women motorcyclists rumbled down Second Street in Casper Tuesday during the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo Parade.
“I like the white one, I want the white one,” 4-year-old Jillian Rabenenberg said as she watched with her family at a corner by David Street Station.
“I get the sidecar,” her mother Lauren Rabenenberg said later to her two kids and several family members who gathered along the sidewalk. Three generations of the family continued to “call” their favorite vehicles—from classic cars to horse-drawn buggies and wagons.
Many floats decked in this year’s “Celebrating Wyoming Women” theme nodded to the 150th anniversary of Women’s suffrage in Wyoming and celebrated women today with takes from Wonder Woman to cancer survivors.
Kimberly Walker, president of the Natrona County Republican Women, dressed as a suffragette to help lead the group’s float topped in signs that introduced women including Casper’s 2019 Woman of Distinction, attorney and pianist Susan Stubson; Racheal Linaman, a coal miner and army veteran; and Crystal MacGuire, NRA Firearm Instructor, pilot and competitive shooter. A large ballot box with an 1869 ballot checked for Ulysses S. Grant rolled by on the Oil City Dental float.
On the Highland Park Community Church’s Celebrate Recovery float, women held signs including “survivor of domestic abuse,” and “Pain hurt anger” under a banner that read “Wyoming Women in Recovery.”
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center float passed by with pioneer women and other historical characters carrying 1889 campaign signs promoting Clarence D. Clark for Wyoming territorial delegate, followed by a covered wagon, a historical stage coach replica and National Pony Express Association. On the Kiwanis International float, girls wore costumes and held signs to represent historical figures such as Sacagawea and Calamity Jane. A sign read “Wyoming women have always been rebels” on the Casper Rebels girls’ fastpitch softball team’s float.
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Rabenenberg’s sister, Erin Bagner, watched the parade with her two kids, her mother-in-law and three nieces and nephews visiting from Washington. For the sisters, the annual parade is a family tradition they’re passing along to their children. They’d pointed out to one another women motorcycle riders from several states, which was among their favorites in this year’s parade.
The family all had their favorites. Bagner’s mother-in-law, Debbie Bagner, enjoyed the local marching band students; her son participated in the summer band, she said. She and generations dating back to her great grandmother were born in Douglas, and she grew up on Lincoln Street in Casper, she said. The parade used to line up in front of the family’s home and head into downtown, she said.
This year’s route changed from recent years, which meant a shady spot the family had secured early every parade day morning was no longer on the route, Rabenenberg said. But they continued their early morning tradition and arrived downtown about 7 a.m. to find a new spot this year on the corner of Second and David streets by the new downtown plaza.
“I think it’s cool that they started here because then people can use this space that they made,” Rabenenberg said.
Their plans for the rest of the day included lunch before heading to the Central Wyoming Fair for the livestock exhibits, carnival and the first PRCA rodeo performance.
It’s hard for the kids to roll out of bed at 6 on a summer morning, Bagner said. But you’d never know by the time they were grabbing candy tossed from floats, clapping to music, high-fiving clowns and Spider-Man and laughing as as water splashed them from fire trucks and water guns.
“I mean, you kind of force them to come to the parade and force the tradition upon them because sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it takes forever,” Bagner said. “We get here at 7 o’clock in the morning and get our spot. But I think it’s something you have to – they remember it forever. And if I don’t force it upon them, they’re not going to make their kids go as well, and the parades will end.”