PINE BLUFFS – For Maegan Madden, being chosen as the Pine Bluffs Trail Days Queen was a big deal.
Her essay about sharing, caring and fellowship in Pine Bluffs earned her the spot, and those same qualities were exemplified at the 70th annual Pine Bluffs Trail Days during events like the youth rodeo, the street dance, and Madden’s personal favorite, mud volleyball.
Saturday morning, hundreds lined the streets for the parade, with kids waiting patiently to collect tossed candy, and residents shouting at their friends and family as they rode by in floats, fire trucks and fancy, classic cars.
“It just means a lot,” Maegan said. “This is a really big celebration for our town.”
The excitement and camaraderie was palpable in the air, with many residents gathering in a large group for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Wyoming. It seemed like everyone, from the Centennial Antique Tractor and Engine Club to the Patriot Guard Riders, came to Pine Bluffs’ Main Street to celebrate the occasion.
Some rode on tractors, while others rode on intricately decorated floats. The volunteers with Pheasants Forever, a group that fundraises and teaches kids about conservation and gun safety, spent about two days creating a giant pheasant to ride on their display.
Four teenage volunteers with the group – Alexis DePaullite, Kami Tangeman, Kylee Bruns and Piper Perez – donned bright pink shirts as they tossed tons of candy to the crowds. Many of the kids in attendance were already Trail Days experts, so they came prepared with plastic bags to get the maximum amount of candy possible.
According to the girls, the parade was “definitely” more lively this year after so many months without social gatherings.
“It gives people a chance to get together again without being told not to,” 16-year-old Bruns said, sitting on the back of the float under the pheasant sculpture.
For some participants, Trail Days has been a lifelong tradition. Nathan Smith, who manned the HollyFrontier fire truck in the parade, used to ride in the rodeo when he was younger. Now, he’s passed the same traditions along to his kids.
For others, like Sandy Spainhower, the parade marked their first experience at Pine Bluffs Trail Days. Spainhower recently moved to the area from eastern Colorado and has an electric blue 1968 Dodge Charger that she knew would be perfect for the parade.
“It’s been great getting to meet new people,” Spainhower said, adding that she met some fellow car fanatics, and they plan on going for a ride and getting a bite to eat.
The Patriot Guard Riders were another new addition to the parade this year, riding shiny motorcycles and carrying flags to honor those who have served our country.
Ride Captain Mike Moore said, “Our motto is we ride with respect, and we stand for those who stood for us.”
The crew rode behind Pine Bluffs’ American Legion Post 60 to honor the veterans and get to know the community. On the path to becoming a regional chapter, Moore said the group is looking to integrate itself into towns across Wyoming so they know the Patriot Guard Riders are available whenever they’re needed.
“If there’s any funeral, any event, we will be there,” Moore said.