HOUSTON, Texas - 'Everything is bigger in Texas' is a common phrase said by natives of the Lone Star State and in many ways that is a true statement.
It is the largest state in the contiguous United States and is home to several of the largest cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S. Houston, the largest city in Texas as well as the fourth-largest in the U.S., is also home to the largest and longest running livestock show and rodeo in the world, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR).
Apart of the HLSR is the Downtown Rodeo Parade, a 76 year old event where downtown Houston is transformed into a celebration of its Western heritage.
Traveling more than 1,500 miles to lead the parade is the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, stationed on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow., Calif., said Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, non-commissioned officer in charge of the MCG.
The roughly two and a half mile route took the MCG through the streets of downtown Houston, where thousands of cheering spectators watched the MCG carry the National and Marine Corps Colors on their palomino mustangs.
Helping bring the MCG to the HLSR was Nicholas Low, coordinator for the armed forces appreciation committee for the HLSR and former active duty Marine.
“Having the MCG at the parade was vital to our mission,” he explained. “As a committee we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in troops and their families to the event for armed forces appreciation day.”
Having the MCG at the rodeo and parade helps raise awareness for what the committee does, Low added. They have such a big presence at the parade, and it’s huge in helping support our cause.
It also brings a new awareness and sense of pride for other service members seeing the MCG out at the parades, Low said.
“I'm a Marine, and I never knew about the MCG when I was in the Marines,” he explained. “So it’s impressive for them to see what goes on outside their MOS (military occupational specialty) or outside of whatever else it is they have done, so it’s a sense of pride for them. Especially for their fellow Marines, it really helps build esprit de corps.”
However, this ride was somewhat bittersweet, said Torrealba. It marked the first time Sgt. Moises Machuca, stableman with the MCG, and Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Garcia, staff NCOIC of the MCG, participated in the parade, but it would also be the last time himself, and Cpl. Bryanna Kesller also a stableman with the MCG, will participate in the parade as members of the MCG.
Though it is their last time in the Downtown Rodeo Parade, it isn't their last parade or event with the MCG. The MCG is slated to lead The Rex Parade during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, March 4, and begin the opening ceremonies on armed forces appreciation day at the HLSR, March 5.