Wyoming's Fourth of July Starts Early With Cody Stampede Parade

Fourth of July in Wyoming got its traditional early start Wednesday with the first of two Cody Stampede Parades. Thousands of people packed Sheridan Avenue for Grand Marshal Larry the Cable Guy and horses — lots of horses.

Andrew Rossi

July 03, 20246 min read

The Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024, featured plenty of horses — as usual.
The Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024, featured plenty of horses — as usual. (Andrew Rossi, Cowboy State Daily)

CODY — There’s no shortage of fantastic Fourth of July celebrations in Wyoming, but it seems everyone who’s anyone in the Cowboy State wants to make an appearance at the Cody Stampede Parades on July 3 and 4.

A mile-long stretch of Sheridan Avenue was closed off Wednesday morning for the first of the two Cody Stampede Parades. They lined the street to watch 130 entries featuring everything from local businesses to politicians, celebrities and more horses than can be counted.

Along with being an early kickoff to Independence Day, The Cody Stampede Parade also means it’s time for one of Wyoming’s most celebrated and legendary events — the Cody Stampede Professional Rodeo — for the 105th time.

The Preamble

The sidewalks of Sheridan Avenue were already covered with camp chairs on the evening of July 2, as locals strategically placed their property to ensure a good view of the parades. The city of Cody has never been a fan of this practice, but it’s become as much of an annual tradition as the parade itself.

As spectators waited for the parade to begin Wednesday, they listened to a full recording of the reading of the Declaration of Independence along with patriotic quotes from great American leaders.

“On July 4, 1776, King George III wrote in his diary,” said Mack Frost, a member of the Cody Stampede Parade Committee who narrates both days of the parade every year. “He wrote, ‘Nothing of importance happened today.’”

The 2024 parades are led by the U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guards, the only unit of its kind in the Marines. Their horses are all adopted from the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The Cody Honor Guard’s Flag Unit stopped in front of the Irma Hotel to present an American flag and play the national anthem. Spectators doffed their hats and stood for a moment of silence in honor of the United States and the servicemen and women who dedicated their lives to their nation.

Git R Done

With the Honor Guard passed, the raucous celebration began. The theme of 2024’s Parade is “Git R Done, in Western Style,” in recognition of Grand Marshal Larry the Cable Guy.

Spectators didn’t have to wait long to see the popular comedian. A horse-drawn wagon carrying Larry the Cable Guy, armed with a loudspeaker to address the cheering crowds, was closely followed by Mater, a 1945 tow truck decked out to resemble the character he voiced in the Disney-Pixar “Cars” franchise.

History On Wheels

No parade is complete without long lines of historic vehicles. The Cody Stampede Parade has plenty of those, ranging from 1 horsepower and up.

Fleets of Ford Model A’s and Corvettes cruised down Sheridan Avenue, as did various military vehicles from every era of American history.

The Big Hat Ranch rolled through Cody with its 1925 White Model 15-45, an 11-passenger tour bus used in Yellowstone National Park from 1920-1925. The bus is one of only 16 in existence and could boast still having its original body and coachwork.

The Cody Lions Club rode in “Old Yeller,” another Yellowstone tour bus from 1917-1930. It’s been a fixture in Cody’s Fourth of July parades for 64 years.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis rode in a 1971 Pontiac Grandville on Wednesday, which was decorated with 19 guns, 22 horseshoes and more than 500 silver dollars, as requested by its intended owner, Elvis Presley.

A crowd-favorite attraction was Brittan’s Johnny Poppers, a collection of more than a dozen antique John Deere tractors, all in working condition. The display includes a 1951 John Deere R, the first diesel tractor created by the iconic company.

But the biggest noise came from the entire fleet of emergency vehicles of the Cody Volunteer Fire Department. Sirens blared and water balloons rained down on the eager spectators, who encouraged the firefighters to take their best shot at them.

Grand Marshal Larry the Cable Guy brandishes a loud speaker as he passes the cheering crowds during during the Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024.
Grand Marshal Larry the Cable Guy brandishes a loud speaker as he passes the cheering crowds during during the Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024. (Andrew Rossi, Cowboy State Daily)

On The Hoof

There were also plenty of mini and full-sized horses in the Cody Stampede Parade.

The Outriders, red-shirted volunteers on horseback, rode along the parade route, following the entries to keep everything and everyone moving.

Another regular fixture is the Shoshone National Forest String Pack, the mules and horses used to perform essential backcountry tasks for the U.S. Forest Service.

The mules were led in a wide circle across the extra-wide Sheridan Avenue. Cody’s main street was built to the specifications of town founder Buffalo Bill Cody to ensure any horse and carriage could easily turn around.

Meanwhile, the Park County Mini Horses had plenty of room to maneuver, all bedazzled with patriotic bows and glitter.

Monarchy And Democracy

Even though Independence Day is a celebration of the nation’s liberation from a monarchy, there was plenty of royalty in the Cody Stampede Parade. Of course, it was mostly rodeo royalty.

Big Horn County Circuit Queen Savannah James, Miss Rodeo Tennessee Sydney Cannon, Sheridan Wyoming Queen Mercy Maestri, Miss Fronter Cailin Garcia, and all the royalty from the Fremont County Fair and Rodeo attend both days of the parade. Miss Rodeo Wyoming Baylee Mackey and Miss Rodeo America Emma Cameron joined the county queens and misses.

Miss Wyoming 2024 and Miss Wyoming Teen 2024, Baylee Drewry from Greybull and Carlyn Murray from Cody appear in both parades. They shared the moment with Miss Wyoming American Eve Lindamood and the first National American Miss Wyoming Chase Anderson, a Powell native.

Gov. Mark Gordon didn’t attend Cody’s parade this year, but the rest of Wyoming’s highest elected officials were there: Treasurer Curt Meier, Auditor Kristi Racines and Superintendent Megen Degenfelder were there Wednesday, while Secretary of State Chuck Gray was in Cody for both parades.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has walked the parade route on both days for several years, always receiving a warm welcome from the thousands of people watching from the sidewalks. U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman is expected Thursday.

  • The Wyoming Outdoorsman present their moose-riding float to great acclaim during the Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024.
    The Wyoming Outdoorsman present their moose-riding float to great acclaim during the Cody Stampede Parade on July 3, 2024. (Andrew Rossi, Cowboy State Daily)

Bringing Up The Bands

Wyoming marching bands don’t get a chance to march much, but the Stampede Parades is prime for them.

In addition to the hometown marching band from Cody High School, the Cheyenne East, South and Central high schools, and the Western Winds Marching Band from Casper all sent bands for both parades.

The final entry in both parades was the Wyoming All-State Band, which has performed in everything from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Its next big appearance will be the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade in November.

The unofficial end to the Cody Stampede Parade is the pirouettes of the city of Cody’s street cleaners.

Despite the pedigree of the hoofstock, they’re always sure to drop their takeaways on the parade route. And unlike the ample amount of candy dispersed during the parade, nobody was keen to take those patriotic souvenirs with them.

Andrew Rossi can be reached at arossi@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter

Andrew Rossi is a features reporter for Cowboy State Daily based in northwest Wyoming. He covers everything from horrible weather and giant pumpkins to dinosaurs, astronomy, and the eccentricities of Yellowstone National Park.