38th Annual Old West Days Parade

The Bridger-Teton National Forest pack mule string winds its way down the street during the 38th Annual Old West Days Parade on Broadway Avenue in 2019.

In a surprising reversal, the Old West Days committee of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has decided to plan a Memorial Day parade, even without hitting its target number of participants.

Chamber president and CEO Anna Olson let a late Friday press release do the talking. A story in this week's News&Guide spelled out the primary issue with hosting an Old West Parade: not enough participation.

Teton Back Country Horsemen members, for instance, bemoaned the parade’s potential cancellation, but when it came to actually volunteering, the response was more “underwhelming," the group's president said.

On a News&Guide social media post for the story, one commenter wrote: "A [community's] soul and traditions are created and sustained by its residents. Lack of interest or passion is why communities change over time. In so many aspects we have all been witnessing the Hole lose its soul for decades now."

But the Old West Days committee decided that dying day has not come yet for the parade.

"Despite still not meeting the criteria of 30 entrants, (only 20 confirmed at time of release) there was agreement and recognition the community wants to see a parade," members wrote in a media release.

One of those members, Vicki Garnick, owner of the Jackson Hole Playhouse, said specifically: “We recognize this was hard for the community and decided to revisit by encouraging those who wanted to participate to reach out."

Olson explained further: “During the past 10 days we have seen some sparks of community support, so in the 'Ride for the Brand' spirit let's ignite those sparks and anticipate others."

The Chamber is hoping 10 more groups — preferably equestrian, to celebrate the parade's legacy as the longest running horse-drawn parade in the West — will make a firm commitment to Memorial Day weekend.

Participants can call the Chamber at 733-3316 or email info@jacksonholechamber.com.

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or ERJ@jhnewsandguide.com

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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