Not quite 100 years ago, a small group of local women first started the carriages’ section of what is known today as the Cheyenne Frontier Days Grand Parades. On Thursday, September 7 at 5 p.m., they will host a ribbon cutting for a permanent home for their 1,500+ costumes, inside the Marietta Dineen Carriage Barn which also permanently houses the 60+ wagons and carriages seen in the four Grand Parades.
Originally a small group of ladies working to find riders, outfit them in appropriate costumes, and assign them to specific carriages, the W-Heels as they are known today will finally have a permanent home for their costumes with the opening of the Louise and Frank Cole Costume Room within the Marietta Dineen Carriage Barn.
As their 1890’s period costume collection has grown, finding space for 1,500+ women’s and men’s authentic apparel as well as 500 hats, bicycles, saddles and more from the 1890s, it became apparent the collection needed a dedicated space.
In the past 40 years, the W-Heels have moved their costume collection over seven times to include the basement of a dry-cleaning business and an abandoned gas station. With a generous gift from Louise and Frank Cole, both associated with the Cheyenne Frontier Days Grand Parades for much of their lives, the historic costumes will now be in a temperature-controlled area complete with dressing rooms, workspace to maintain the costumes, and office space to facilitate the checking in and out of costumes in and out for use in the parades.
By: Larry & Julie Gomez; Bob and Jane Ball
Well, here we are almost to the middle of July and as you look down the road you see your neighbor loading his living quarter horse trailer with tack, harness, and his pair of mules. He has been driving pretty regular for the past two months and you know why! He is headed to Cheyenne Frontier Days to hook up to on e of the 126 wagons, restores by Carriage Committee and Tom Watson’s Wagon Doctors Volunteers.
What makes him do it? Everyone has different reasons for why they are all doing the same things. It may be a chance to “showcase” harness that has been in the family for 3 generations. It may be the opportunity to use their abilities as a good teamster. It may be that some feel a real need to help, assist and protect others. After all, this is their Cheyenne Frontier Days Parade Family.
If you ever get lucky enough to be invited into this family, you must be the type of person that will “fit”. Screening goes on in many different directions: personal attributes, dedication, commitment, work ethic, animal handling skills, and the desire to carry on the Western traditions and live the Cowboy Code of Ethics. The main ingredient is how well you “play” with others. For the next 10 to 12 days you will “live” within a 2 acre are the people, their homes, their animals and wagons…. lots of wagons.
The first year you come to Cheyenne Frontier Days, you may know a few neighbors the gave you a good reference. It is after that and other people that you meet, the things you do, your skills and abilities, and how much you enjoy where you are and what you are doing that determines if you want to keep coming back.
If you talk less and say more, you are bound to meet people who will share experiences. Help you if you wish to learn and find out more and more bout the inner workings of Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The first parade is on the 1st Saturday of Rodeo Week. The Friday prior to the first parade is the Fire Truck ride on 1931 Hook and Ladder truck that is kept running and maintained by “Dog”, Jake and Byron. These three and part of the “family” and need no introduction. All good new recruits and “old hands” join in the ride through downtown Cheyenne – part of the tradition.
Parade mornings typically start at 4am. Feed buckets for the animals, carry comb and brushing for their manes and fair, harness the animals, hitching up the wagons by 7am. And trying to get a bite of breakfast, couple cups of coffee, while trying to get dressed into vintage clothing supplied by Parade Wheels Committee and personally owned by Wagon Drivers and their spouses.
At the end of WWII, teamsters from across the US have gathered to participate in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Parades and Rodeo Grand Entries. The teamsters bring a variety of heavy draft horses, light draft horses, mules, and saddle horses. Some come early enough to the round up the rive cattle used during the rodeo.
Each teamster is assigned a wagon supplied by the Frontier Parade and Museum Committee are pulled in all 4 parades. Some are also used to transport VIP’s during the Grand Entries at the rodeo performances. All wagons are on display during Frontier Days. For without them we wouldn’t have this wonderful opportunity to be in Cheyenne Parades. SO with that we thank each and every one of you and have safe travels, till next time.