Marching through Dayton

DAYTON – A little rain couldn’t dampen spirits in Dayton; the parade went on.

Dayton and the surrounding communities celebrated Labor Day and the Dayton Rodeo on Monday.

Allen Porter rode in the annual Dayton Rodeo Labor Day parade this year, overseeing the event that grew from him and two others doing rope tricks in the park 77 years ago.

“I’m so glad I can still go in the parade,” 96-year-old Alan Porter said. “It’s wonderful to get on that cart and see so many people.”

He was the parade marshal in 2012, and injured his back and neck when he fell from the horse-drawn buggy.

Since then, he isn’t able to ride his horse, but the horse still marched in the parade.

Porter had a friend ride his horse behind him during the parade.

“I wish I could still ride him,” Porter said.

It’s unbelievable how, with community support, the rodeo has grown from those humble beginnings to its modern form, Porter said.

Porter said he’s amazed at how much the rodeo has grown over the last 77 years.

“There’s a lot of people,” he said. “It’s good for the community.”

Even though the rodeo had to be evacuated due to the storm Sunday night, the streets were lined with people.

“The last firework went off, then we had the tornado warning,” Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar said. “We’re fortunate the weather held up for the parade.”

At 7:30 Sunday evening, organizers with the rodeo announced on the loudspeaker that strong storms were approaching and were expected to arrive within 30 minutes.

Shortly before that announcement, organizers said they were going to attempt to speed up the rodeo to get everybody done before the storm hit.

The tornado warning was issued at 8:15 p.m.

“Overall, it’s been good seeing the fans even though we’ve been telling them of thunder storms.”

Dunbar said it was amazing how many people still attended the rodeo and parade, despite the weather.

There was some light rain before the parade started, but the sun began to shine near the end of it.

“Even though it rained, we still got a good crowd,” Porter said.

Porter started the rodeo more than seven decades ago with a few friends.

“We started the rodeo a long time ago,” he said. “We didn’t know what to do, we just had a good time.”

He and his friends road steers all day 77 years ago.

“That’s how it got started,” Porter said. “Just a bunch of boys in the saddle club.”

With those 77 years has come tradition, said Larry Nelson, of Callender.

“You see people you haven’t seen for a long time,” he said.

Nelson said he’s been going to the parade for more years than he could count.