The 90th annual American Royal Parade on Saturday at the Truman Sports Complex had lots of brassy marching bands and high-stepping drill teams, smiling local celebrities, shiny classic cars and even shiny classic tractors.
But for Luke Freyermuth and his sisters and cousins, it was the horses that made it special.
“I haven’t seen a lot of parades that have a lot of horses,” the 9-year-old from Kansas City said, impressed.
Yes, there were plenty of horses. There were cowboys and girls (both roughrider and rhinestone varieties) on horses, police officers on horses, equestrians on horses, a sheriff’s posse on horses and behind them, kids marching with shovels and barrels to keep things tidy.
“It’s pretty cool,” said 7-year-old Rory, Luke’s sister. She was amazed by the variety of colors the horses came in: gray, black, sorrel, and some that defied her already-extensive vocabulary.
“I couldn’t tell what color it was,” she said.
This was the first time Luke and Rory had been to an American Royal Parade. And this was also the first time the American Royal held its parade at the sports complex, rather than downtown. Hundreds of people lined the parade route between Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums on the sunny but chilly morning.
The American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue on Saturday also made the move to the sports complex from its traditional home in the West Bottoms.
Acres of parking lots by Arrowhead Stadium had been turned into a tent city redolent with wood smoke as serious barbecue teams — with names like “Insane Swine,” “Midnight Stokers” and “Baptized in Smoke” — prepared their specialties. Pickups and SUVs carrying fresh supplies drove back and forth past security guards.
For the public, booths sold souvenirs and countless varieties of barbecue sauce, some even guaranteed gluten-free.
The new parade location got a thumbs-up from Luke. He enjoyed being able to see Kauffman Stadium as he watched the parade go by. He really likes the stadium, particularly one food item.
There’s just something special about the K’s popcorn, he said.