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February 11, 2005

Oris Reed in the Rose Parade

I don't know if you got to see the mule entries in the Rose Parade on January 1 or not, but I thought you might enjoy reading about Oris' adventures with his team.

You may remember on December 9, I wrote an article about Oris and his mule team, Kate and Molly, preparing to participate in the America's Cavalry entry in the Rose Parade. Here is the story of Oris' adventures told in his own words.

Kristie Jorgensen

The 2005 Rose Parade
by Oris Reed

The trip to the Rose Parade will forever be a memory I shall cherish. The loss of sleep getting ready to go, after we got there, and coming home has no doubt taken 35 years off my life. We left the High Plains of Southeastern Colorado with two mules sporting long wooly coats of hair. We arrived at a ranch 28 miles from Lancaster, California. Lancaster is 85 miles from Pasadena.


The escort wagon was to be in place at the ranch so we could hook to it and see how the mules handled it. The wagon was in Burbank. The flat trailer used to haul the wagon was in Malibu. The wagon was six inches to wide to fit in the horse trailer. We drove to Malibu and picked up the trailer. Then back to Burbank for the wagon. Then back to the ranch. By this time Clint was a little on the "ticked" side.



The next day we hooked to the wagon. I don’t mind telling the entire world how much fun I had with that wagon. The night before the parade we got no sleep. Loaded the mules in the trailer and someone else pulled the flatbed with the wagon. Left for Pasadena at midnight. Was in place at 3:00am. Crystal and her friend ambushed us right after we were in place. That lady had some chocolate cake and fudge. I had not had any chocolate cake for at least three days and was having a granddaddy of all chocolate cake withdrawal. Crystal wanted $35.00 for that cake. I ended up giving her $34.29 for it.

Kate, Molly and I survived. It’s a grueling experience getting into the parade and then the parade itself is five miles at the walk acknowledging the crowd and having a good time. We arrived at the staging area (basically the 210 Freeway in Pasadena), at about 3am. I have never seen so many horse trailers, motor homes, coach buses and support vehicles in one place in my life! It’s absolutely an event-to-end-all-events.


They feed parade units in via the various streets leading from the freeway onto the main parade route. The logistics of this operation rivals anything the military has to do to move troops and equipment and it goes remarkably smoothly. My hat is off to the organizers of the Tournament of Roses. It also takes a long time. The "approach march" was two hours before we actually got into the parade. Of the two hours, most was standing still. The parade itself had very few stops of any duration.

The equestrian units all feed in from one street, the floats from another and the bands from a third. The "equestrian street" intersects the float street so as we sat there we got to see some of the more spectacular floats go by, in full operation with motion and music. I've watched the parade for years but to see the floats up close was pretty cool. They are quite large and colorful. TV does not do them justice.


On the other hand, Kate and Molly didn’t seem particularly interested. An enormous brontosaurus rolled by, moving his head back and forth, up and down, munching on vegetation. Kate pricked her ears up for about 10 seconds then seemed to say "Oh, its just a giant dinosaur on a flatbed. Ho hum." Everyone asks, "Would you do it again". For me, I know the answer is yes.

I want to tell you about Kate and Molly and the float in front of us. The float kept slowing down and at times stopping. The lady on the white scooter would tell me to tighten up the distance between the mules and the float. The first time we closed in on the float the mules each grabbed a mouthful of flowers. After that it was hard to keep them away from the float. They had their eyes on that damn float the whole time.


Mother Nature had a "snit" all the while we were in California. It rained everyday except the day of the parade. At the ranch where we were, it snowed several days. The California horses with us shivered and shook all the while. Kate and Molly, being from the high plains of southeastern Colorado, turned their rear ends into the wind taking the rain and snow in stride. The day we left, the area in the mountains where we had kept the mules was snowed in and the roads closed. However, the trip did take a toll on them. They didn’t drink for five days. They ate very little hay and no grain. They lost at least 150 lbs. each. As soon as they stepped out of the trailer here at home, they acted like they had not eaten for six months. This morning when I fed at 4:30am, one would have thought I had not fed them the night before. It’s gonna break me just feeding those two hungry mules.

Clint had never seen the ocean. Sunday morning he, his wife, and three girls left poor ol’ me in the motel and they headed for the coast. I went to high school with a friend that lives in the Los Angles area. I had not seen him in 52 years. I called him. He and his wife drove up to Lancaster for a visit. I sure got a shock. The guy is old!!!! We visited for three hours. When they prepared to leave, I walked them to their car. I looked around to see where his wife had parked her broom, but I didn’t see it anywhere.


We started for home early Monday morning. It rained on us all the way to Deming, New Mexico. We were headed for Belen, New Mexico and a warm bed and food at Robert and Nelda’s. Alas, we dropped the clutch just outside of Deming. I knew Robert was in bed. I called him anyway to tell him he could sleep the rest of the night. To make a very long story short, Robert ended up getting the phone number of a tow truck in Deming. The tow truck deposited us onto the lot at the Ford dealership at 1:30am Tuesday. We unloaded the mules. The driver instructed us to put them in the "Repossession Lot." There was no doubt about it. We got the last room in town! The roof leaked over the girls bed. Also, there was no heat.

The next morning Nelda got busy, and we had three offers from list members to come and get the mules until the truck was repaired. The best laugh of the whole trip was Tuesday morning when the manager of the dealership and a mechanic opened the gate to gain entrance onto the main lot. The manager said to his mechanic, "Am I seeing things, or is that a mule?" The other guy said, "You’re seeing double. There are two mules!" They proceeded to the show room. Several salesmen were standing around like a bunch of vultures waiting for customers. The boss told them to look in the repo lot at the mules. He said Ted Turner’s foreman had been trying to deal for a new pickup and those mules were the trade in. Kate and Molly made friends with all the folks that work at the Ford dealership as well as several customers.

We left Deming at noon on Wednesday. I was hungry and knew that Nelda would have something to eat if we stopped there. We called Nelda. She said no way in hell would she feed us. So, we asked her if she wanted to meet us in Belen and have dessert while we ate. Robert, Nelda, their two sons, Tim and Jeremy, met us at the eating place. After many miles of ICY roads, we arrived home at 1:00 am Thursday! Good mules, great friends, and great list members made for a great trip.

I want to thank all the folks who made the trip possible for me. And thanks to those who offered to pick up the mules when we had vehicle trouble in Deming, New Mexico.

I am humbled to know that I have friends like you folks.

Thank you!!!!


Thanks to Oris Reed and Crystal Ward for the photos.

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at February 11, 2005 08:15 AM