News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 5, 2013

68th Frontier Day Parade brings performers, horses, families downtown

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Thursday’s 68th annual Frontier Day Parade in downtown Terre Haute featured a princess on a horse, Shrek on a donkey and riders dressed as Popeye and Olive Oyl.

The parade, which drew 95 participants, is conducted by the Wabash Valley Horsemen’s Association. It featured several judged categories, including most patriotic hitch or rider, most creative costume, typical cowboy or cowgirl and best buggy hitch.

Many people stood or sat along the Wabash Avenue parade route, with children holding bags ready to gather candy tossed their way by passing parade units.

Before the parade began, participants and their horses, donkeys and at least one goat prepared at an Indiana State University parking lot along Fourth Street.

Many people, and horses, were in costume — not all of them willingly.

For the Henson family, the parade has become a tradition. “We wouldn’t know how to start a Fourth of July without the parade,” said Lacey Henson, who rode a horse, as did her sister, Alyssa.

The sisters wore patriotic red, white and blue clothing, adding their own personal touches; Lacey painted Uncle Sam on her jeans.

Their dad, Jim, rode in a cart pulled by a miniature donkey, with a stuffed Shrek toy riding atop the donkey. Kelly Henson, the girls’ mom, passed out candy on the parade route.

“We’ve done it in rain, and last year, we did it in 100-degree weather,” Kelly Henson said. “Lots of preparation goes into it all.”

Nearby, Payton Halloran was dressed as Olive Oyl and her sister, Bailey, wore a Popeye outfit complete with some oversized arm muscles. Bailey’s horse depicted spinach (Popeye’s power food), complete with spinach cans, while Payton’s horse dressed as Swee’Pea, with a bonnet, nightgown and even a pacifier.

This was the sisters’ third year to participate. “It’s really fun because you get to dress up and ride around and people get to see you,” Payton said. It’s also fun getting the horses in costume, she said.  

Her horse’s name is Holly Berry Hipsworth, while her sister’s horse is Big Holly.

Meanwhile, 10-year-old Braxton Rogers, dressed as Uncle Sam, sat high atop his horse, which was decorated with a red, white and blue tinsel hat and a tinsel star on her tail.

“The hat is driving her [the horse] nuts,” said Braxton’s mother, Sue Rogers. Her son was hoping to win the award for “most patriotic.”

Also riding in the parade was 14-year-old Brooklynn Watkins, who wore a pink chiffon gown and a tiara. She rode as a princess.

Her male horse, Spotlight, wore pink ribbons — apparently not embarrassed by it. “He likes all the attention,” said Watkins, who has participated in the parade since before she could walk.

 “It’s really fun and it’s cool to see all the people who come and watch,” Watkins said.

Meanwhile, near Seventh and Wabash, parade coordinator Christina Durham Muncy stood by at the judge’s stand, making sure everything went smoothly.

“We’ve always had great support from the community. We’d always like for more people to come out,” she said.

She remembers participating in the parade with her grandfather “before I could hardly sit up on my own,” Muncy said. “This parade has always been close to my heart.”

This year, the King of the Cowboys was Steve Sankey, while the Frontier Gal was Victoria Hill. The honorary parade grande marshal was Emery Shumaker.

Among those attending the parade were Jamie Lawrence and her three children ages 4, 10 and 12. They try to come every year, she said. “They like to see the tractors, trucks and horses,” she said.

Of course, their favorite part is the candy. “That’s what they were most worried about this morning — getting a bag for their candy,” she said.

Nearby, 2-year-old Wayne Reed sat atop the shoulders of his dad, also named Wayne Reed, as they watched the parade.

“He likes the tractors,” Reed said of his 2-year-old.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or