Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

The Happy Trails gang give back joy and laughter.

10 Comments

Photo from The Promotion Committee Blog of the Calgary Stampede by Madeline Babinec

Photo from The Promotion Committee Blog of the Calgary Stampede by Madeline Babinec

In 1912 when vaudeville performer and trick-roper Guy Weadick arrived in Calgary to stage an outdoor rodeo competition that was also designed to preserve the values and romance of the ‘old-west’, I doubt he had any idea how big and amazing the event would become.

Today, billed as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede (or The Stampede as it’s called by most Calgarians) attracts over a million visitors every year and along with some healthy purses for the winners of the various events, it provides volunteer opportunities for over 5,000 people a year.

When my brother-in-law, JT, retired several years ago, he was looking for something to fill his time and his desire to give back to community. He signed up to become a volunteer with the Stampede.

Today, he and his fellow posse in The Happy Trails Gang, visit locations all over the city, and environs, celebrating the spirit of the west while providing onlookers an opportunity to clap their hands, sing-a-long and maybe even do a two-step or more. From September to May, they turn up with their “Happy Trails” show every last Tuesday of the month at various seniors’ lodges around the city.

Last night, JT and his gang rode into the lodge where my mother lives to turn up the music and get down to some good ‘ole country twang.

My sister Jackie and I trailed along, as did my beloved, C.C., and while I had a great time listening and clapping along, what struck me most was the pure joy and passion of JT and the other members of the gang.

They take their Stampede spirit seriously and share it generously.

The Stampede Queen and Princesses were also there, as was Indian Princess, Maya Many Grey Horses in her stunningly beautiful beaded traditional dress and moccasins. The young women, whose role it is to act as ambassadors for the Stampede, and for Maya, the Indian Village, circulated amongst the crowd, sitting to chat with the seniors, to dance and to sing along. They even lead a couple of line dances and took the mic to sing a couple of tunes together!

Harry the Horse, the 30-year-old mascot for the Stampede also turned up and flirted with the women, got up to some of his playful antics and lead the crowd in boisterous Yah Hoo!s that bowled him over with their fervour, garnering a big cheer from everyone in the room.

When we stopped to grab a bite to eat afterwards, both C.C. and I reflected on how joyful an evening it was and how everyone felt wrapped up in the warmth and energy of the Happy Trails Gang.

Which brings me back to the spirit of giving. There were over 15 members of the Happy Trails Gang there last night along with at least 4 people accompanying the Stampede Royalty and Indian Princess and Harry the Horse. All of them volunteers.

Giving back makes a difference.

To the receiver and the giver.

At the end of the evening, JT introduced us to the man on the committee he calls, ‘my mentor’.

“We’re best buds,” his mentor exclaimed as he bent down to kiss my mother’s cheek and give her a gentle hug.

As we left, one of the residents of the lodge called out a joyful, “Good night” to anyone within hearing distance as she pushed her walker towards the elevator. I’ve never heard that happen after any other event at the lodge.

And that’s the spirit of Stampede.

It allows people to connect, on a deep, whole-hearted level to values we all hold true, but values that sometimes get forgotten or stepped on in the busy-ness of every day living.

Community. Loyalty. Sharing and having fun.

I spent a couple of hours last night surrounded by people committed to giving back to community. Their willingness to share smiles, laughter, good spirits and joy was contagious.

I’m richer today because of their giving back.

Thanks JT and everyone with the Happy Trails Gang! You make a difference.

Advertisements

Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

10 thoughts on “The Happy Trails gang give back joy and laughter.

  1. That’s awesome. I bet those people enjoyed that so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like the volunteers have as much fun as the onlookers – that’s just awesome! ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for that post Louise. You hit the nail on the head as usual. Some of the best things I have ever encountered have been when I was just volunteering for an event. Take care love, John

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw, that’s a sweet story Louise. The Happy Trails Gang is perfect for your city. Only Calgary could pull off a Cowboy themed event each year. I’m not a fan of the Stampede but I appreciate its roots better now after reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is its roots Lisa that create such value in the city. I too used to wonder about its relevance — and then, my daughter joined the Young Canadians and spent five years involved in the Grandstand Show — as did I as a volunteer. I see now how relevant it is. During the aftermath of the floods, it was the Stampede volunteers who organized the people to work at the emergency shelters — it was absolutely amazing!

      Like

This conversation needs your brilliance to shine. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s