BRAWLEY — The Cattle Call Parade marched down Main Street in Brawley on Saturday morning, Nov. 13 to the cheers of a crowd that appeared as big if not bigger than those in the past.
Eight-year-old Emmie Bonesi was sitting on the curb in front of the Brawley Boost Mobile store with her family, eyes wide like the other kids with her, as she watched parade floats, bands, horses, and more roll by.
“I just feel so happy!” Emmie said.
Closer to Plaza Park, 5-year-old Amiee Ramirez was with her family waiting for the parade to get to their section, taking part in a quick chalk-drawing activity on Main Street.
“I’m excited for the horses and cowboys,” Amiee said. “I just love the horses.”
Amiee and Emmie were two of the hundreds of children awaiting the Cattle Call Parade, which a year earlier saw a much smaller virtual version with few people in attendance. It was clear by the numbers of people that packed sidewalks, filled bleachers in the Plaza, and stood shoulder to shoulder that this year’s parade appeared to be one of the best-attended in years.
Some 105 entries were among this year’s lineup from different groups in the Imperial Valley. The Brawley bands played the familiar drum beat from football games. The Cattle Call queen’s court waved from horseback as its rode past in style waving crowds.
Even the Fiesta Tortillas truck was back at it, tossing tortillas to the crowd.
Eirania Jaramillo brings her children out for the parade every year, continuing the tradition. She said she had been telling her son the night before to be ready and he had been super excited.
“Now that I have my kids, I like to bring my kids out to see the horses, the bands, everything, and then the rodeo after,” Jaramillo said.
Jeremy Wyatt grew up in Brawley and experienced Cattle Call his whole life. Though he now lives in El Centro, he came out to the parade to introduce it to friends and the younger children in his family. He reminisced on times when he was the one sitting on the curb, riding the floats, and chasing people who were handing out candy along the route.
“It is a tradition, it’s nostalgia, it brings up memories of childhood,” Wyatt said. “When I was a kid was on some of these floats, and now my kids are on these floats. So, it just brings it all back to family. It’s a big circle.”
Elsa Sanchez lives in Fontana, but she comes down to visit her family that is still in Brawley. All were watching in the back of a truck near the courthouse cheering loudly as the Brawley Union High School floats rolled by.
“We usually gather every year,” Sanchez said. “It feels great to get back to normal.”
Alexander and Andrew Uriarte come every year either with family or on their own. They walked along the route before the parade heading for vendors while also waving to friends and their students as they did.
“I’m feel I’m going to enjoy it more now, especially now that we are going into teaching and we start to see our students here and seeing familiar faces more often,” Andrew Uriarte said. “It feels like you’re somewhere you belong in a sense.”
Both brothers felt feeling of wrongness when the parade was not hosted last year and were glad to see the community coming out again.
“The community, the atmosphere, the festivities, it’s a nice place to come around,” Alexander Uriarte said. “Last year, it felt really weird and wrong to not have a Cattle Call Parade, to not have something to come and watch all the floats and schools, and to not come to see the stalls or participate. It felt super sad.”
This year’s winners included IV Challenger Little League for the Mayor’s Trophy, Too Cute Kitten Rescue for the Queen’s Trophy, Imperial Heights Healthcare for the Western Spirit, and Best S.T.E.P. Forward for the overall Sweepstakes Trophy. The sweepstakes winner was chosen by a panel of judges and awarded the trophy with a $1,000 check.
Ramiro Urias, chief executive officer for The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Brawley, said this year was one of the most intense preparations for the parade in years. The chamber started planning later than usual, but even with less time, the chamber managed to pull through.
Urias, who is from Holtville, could see Cattle Call is taken seriously and the tradition cherished. He added that people were calling all the way back in February asking whether there would be a parade this year.
“It’s a long-standing tradition of Brawley,” Urias added. “We’re happy we were able to have it and I think overall everyone was just ready to come out, see family, see friends, and enjoy it.”