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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Roping up Cougars for Rodeo


The Spirit of Houston Marching Band, cheerleaders and Cougar Dolls represented UH and flooded the streeds with red in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Saturday. | Conny Ramirez/The Daily Cougar

The Spirit of Houston Marching Band showed off its UH spirit by kicking off the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade, a tradition taking place every February since 1938, as the downtown streets of Houston transformed into a Western celebration.

The marching band opened the show while the Cougar Dolls and the Cheer Squad spread enthusiasm into the crowds.

“The marching band’s 375 members once again served the greater community in the Houston Rodeo Parade,” said Marc Martin, interim director of Athletic Bands and visiting assistant music professor. “Our students, our program and our institution were thrilled to contribute to the tradition and excitement that only the Houston Rodeo can bring.”

The band rotated classic pieces such as “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” “Horse” and “The UH Fight Song” as it strutted its talent across the mile-long parade.

“The rodeo is a huge Texan tradition,” said music education freshman and band member Tyler Hardee. “While the whole procedure was pretty repetitive, the fact that everyone was getting super pumped-up from the music we played, it made it really exciting.”

Some of the band members considered the parade as a way to repay the excitement the rodeo has brought to them throughout the past years.

“I enjoyed the energy of the audience. As a music performance major, you are not required to do any years with the marching band, but I do it because I get to meet and greet people, you just can’t miss out on that experience. It means something to the crowd, and that’s something we consider, and you can do that in a very broad scheme in the rodeo parade. I’ve been to the rodeo for the past five to six years. It’s just a big party, very entertaining, and now I’m a part of the experience, so I’m enjoying it so much more,” said music performance sophomore Chad Henry.

For the second time in a row, UH’s float was awarded the originality award. The float showcased Cougar pride with the attendance of President Renu Khator, Homecoming King Michael Szymanski, Homecoming Queen and The Daily Cougar editor-in-chief Channler K. Hill and members of the dance and cheer squad.

“This year we had about six of the (Cougar) Dolls with the University of Houston Alumni Association float, which received the originality award, a huge honor for the University and the dance team,” said  Christina Dillon, a mechanical engineering junior and captain of the Cougar Dolls. “The rest of the team marched with the Spirit of Houston and opened the parade. It was exciting. It’s very important to have a University presence at events like the rodeo parade to show what a great influence UH is.”

This is also a big step for the Cougar Dolls as they promote their talent, get their name out into the public to achieve recognition and compete alongside prominent dance teams such as the Louisiana State University Tiger Girls and the University of Oklahoma Pom Pon Squad.

“It’s my third year being able to walk in the rodeo parade, and it’s always a good feeling seeing people’s faces light up or when they tell you that the University of Houston has such great spirit and supports us,” said kinesiology sophomore and Cougar Dolls co-captain Brittany Castilleja.

Unlike most members of the Spirit of Houston, some performers experienced this yearly tradition for the first time, such as pre-pharmacy sophomore Tiarra Pereda, who moved from Missouri last year to complete her medical degree.

“For me, the rodeo is very new. I never knew of the Houston Rodeo until I came to UH last year,” Pereda said. “I experienced my first rodeo last spring break and am really looking forward to what’s next. It was thrilling to see all the people who came out to the parade and even participated in the races,” Pereda said.

“Since moving into Texas, I’ve fallen in love with their pride and traditions. There’s so much to do when it comes to the rodeo, and I can’t wait to keep going each year,” Pereda said.

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