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Bishop Mule Days

BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Bishop Mule Days named BCHC (our state-wide organization) "Best Friend of the Packers" at the celebration over the Memorial Day weekend in 2012.
All photos courtesy of Carol Jo Hargreaves and Kathy Zumbrunn.
You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

Dennis Serpa

Dennis Serpa in the Grand Entry

Carol Jo Hargreaves and Kathy Zumbrunn

Carol Jo Hargreaves and Kathy Zumbrunn in the parade

Michael King, Carol Jo Hargreaves, Lloyd Erlandson and Kathy Zumbrunn

Michael King, Carol Jo Hargreaves, Lloyd Erlandson and Kathy Zumbrunn

Carol Jo Hargreaves and Kathy Zumbrunn

Carol Jo Hargreaves and Kathy Zumbrunn in the wagon in the parade

Kathy Zumbrunn and Carol Jo Hargreaves

Kathy Zumbrunn and Carol Jo Hargreaves with the wagon from the parade

You may read the newsletter article, below, go to the main Activities page, or Home.

Bishop Mule Days

by Carol Jo Hargreaves

When I heard BCHC was going to receive the "2012 Best Friend of the Packers" award at Bishop Mule Days Celebration, I was so excited and proud of our organization I knew I wanted to be there to be part of the ceremony.

Kathy Zumbrunn and Jon Caudill picked Larry and me up Friday morning of Memorial Day weekend and we took off for Bishop, planning to drive there via scenic Sonora Pass. Just before the turnoff to Yosemite a sign declared "Sonora Pass Closed", so we quickly revised our route plans and headed south. With each passing mile the weather became increasingly cold and dark. As we entered Yosemite National Park we met snow flurries and then full-fledged snow! Fortunately we made it over Tioga Pass before the Park Service closed it to traffic.

As part of the award activities, BCHC members were invited to participate in the Mule Days parade, a luncheon, and the award ceremony. Preparation for the parade began early Saturday morning. The weather had changed from cold and windy to clear and sunny. The ring of majestic mountains surrounding Bishop glistened with new-fallen snow. We got to the staging area and found several other BCHC members getting ready. Dennis Serpa was exercising his pack string; Lloyd Erlandson was riding a borrowed horse; Pete Kriger from San Gorgonio Pass unit was circling his pack mule; Antelope Valley's Dennis Harfman had packed his string and was riding with Dick Blizzard and Blair Caldwell; and Doc Carter of Eastern Sierra unit, organizer of our BCHC parade entry, was working with a nice-looking string.

Kathy Z., Michael King and I felt lucky to be invited to ride in a mule-drawn wagon with other BCHC members and Friends of the Inyo. We sat across from Mid Valley member Mary Beth Baglione and her daughter, Anna, and next to Ken and Betty Finch from Kern River Valley unit. Also in the wagon were Marty Jorgensen of San Diego unit, a couple of nice Friends of the Inyo gents, and a family with three cute little kids. Those who valiantly participated in the parade on foot included Mid Valley's own Donna Peterson walking with Patty Heyden, Tammy Alsmann, and Terry Jorgensen from San Diego unit. Thad Chodakauskas and Roland Schmidt, from Santa Ana River unit, carried large banners encouraging everyone to attend BCHC's Rendezvous in Norco next year.

I'm sure you are familiar with the old saying, "Hurry up and wait." That is what parades are like! As entry #43, we had plenty of time to wait. The 20 mule team hitched to three wagons was beside us in the parade staging area. As the long wait dragged on several of the mules got antsy. Suddenly eight mules decided to reverse direction and get the heck out of there, dragging their teammates with them! Fortunately the skilled outriders and guys on the ground quickly got the mules under control and realigned. We were relieved no one was injured. The skid marks left in the asphalt by the metal wagon wheels, however, will be there for years to come!

The parade finally got moving, only about ten minutes past official start time. Kathy Z. and I had fun pretending to be the Queen doing the "parade wave," greeting spectators as our wagon proceeded down Bishop's main street.

Little kids and old people love parades! We could see the joy on their faces as we rolled by. To spectators, the annual Bishop Mule Days Parade provides a glimpse of American history and tradition. The all-equestrian parade is sort of a visual reenactment of how America moved West with the help of mules and wagon trains and is a poignant reminder of the way things used to be in a simpler time when community was of utmost importance and people reached out to help their neighbors.

As we made our way along the parade route we saw a number of BCHC members among the almost 30,000 spectators waving at us from the sidelines. We saw Mid Valley members Rudy Dezzani and Karen Barindelli; Chip and Linda Herzig of San Gorgonio Pass unit, and Lynn Joiner of Kern Sierra unit. There were lots of other BCHC folks on the sidelines including Mid Valley members Jon Caudill, Larry Schneider, Gazel Bulotti, Rayma Garcia, Judy Meeks, Doug Decker, Susan Erlandson, Buddy Serpa, Al Baptista and Sunny Sweeney. Also there were Mary and Scott Odell and Mike and Sue Hogeland of San Joaquin Sierra unit; Troy and Susie Patton of Santa Ana River unit; Tom Firth from San Gorgonio Pass, and Dan Marus of Mother Lode unit. I am certain there were many, many more!

Following the parade, any BCHC member could attend the free Volunteer Luncheon in the Charles Brown Pavilion. We were served meatloaf, a variety of salads, baked beans, fruit cup, rolls and butter, several types of brightly decorated cake for dessert, and all the drinks we wanted from water and sodas to beer.

After lunch we found seats at the east end of the arena for the Grand Entry and much-anticipated awards presentation. Dennis Serpa (BCHC President) and Pete Kriger (BCHC National Director), with their pack stock, represented BCHC in the Grand Entry. Saddle mules, pack mules, wagons, a stage coach, and the 20 mule team began to assemble and circle the arena. Music blared, the national anthem was sung, and announcers Bob Feist and Bob Tallman enthusiastically described the 20 mule team hitch and the antique fire wagon racing around the infield. Eagerly anticipating public announcement of BCHC's honor, my spirits dropped when the announcer read his script and presented the award to "Backcountry PACKERS"! Not once did the crowd hear our organization, BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMEN OF CALIFORNIA, received the 2012 Best Friend of the Packers award!

Oh, well! Those who read the program know the great work BCHC does to preserve recreational stock use on public lands through volunteer service and education. They know that last year our membership donated more than 141,000 hours of volunteer work, the dollar value of which exceeded $4.5 million! They also know BCHC worked tirelessly in support of commercial packers in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park.


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Backcountry Horsemen of California - Mid Valley Unit
PO Box 1709
Modesto CA 95353-1709

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