Precinct 333

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Rodeo Reflections

Today's Houston Chronicle has four letters to the editor about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. While I don't usually comment on letters, I think these four deserve some commentary. My wife and I have found this year's RodeoHouston to be wonderful.

Kindness everywhere a thrill

My wife and I attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last week and were thrilled, not only with the way the rodeo is operated with great efficiency and attention to its quests, but also how we were treated by complete strangers and the rodeo staff.

With my wife in a wheelchair, we had never experienced kindness like this before displayed by complete strangers.

The parking accommodations for the handicapped were close to the stadium and kind police officers guided us so we could quickly and easily enter the rodeo arena.

Everywhere we turned there were people who were sensitive to our needs.

When it got close to time for the show, we got in line. A young man came over and guided us to a different gate where we were first in line. He made the effort by searching the gates for the best one. That spontaneous gesture will long be remembered as reflective of the spirit of respect shown to us by so many of the youth we encountered.

After the show, we were again assisted to the elevator, given priority for entering it and guided to the proper exit. What a wonderful experience this town gave us.

We have not lived here long and it was with some anxiety that we even went to the rodeo, considering the crowds and all the excitement. But we certainly will come back, thanks to those who went out of their way to assist us.

This event proved for us to be another reason to take pride in being Texans and Houstonians.


I cannot help but echo Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley. The on-going health problems my wife faces finally caused us to get handicapped plates a couple of months back. We have been quite pleased with the parking situation which has cut her walking significantly. We've even been pleasantly surprised as we've discovered that they have implemented a wheelchair service for those who have difficulty with the ramps and escalators at Reliant Stadium. She has been whisked onto an elevator and straight to her seat at each of the performances we've attended, and back out again after the concert is over. All the staff has been great, and most of the other folks attending have been accommodating when they have seen her getting around with her walking cast and cane (the latter a permanent feature, the former only temporary). The Rodeo has made some giant strides over the last few years in dealing with handicapped individuals, and has responded to suggestions from the public.

Help kids without the cruelty

I was disgusted with the picture of the calf shown in the paper this week. The fear shown in the animal's eyes as a teenager threw and wrestled the animal to the ground made me extremely sad.

Isn't there some other way we can help these kids without making the animals suffer?

There's got to be a better way to get these kids to college rather than having them raise an animal from birth, to love, feed and tend it daily, only to have to sell it to the highest bidder for slaughter!

We should not make these kids choose between an education and an animal they love. That's just cruel.


A couple of points, Ms. Broaddus.

1) The local Humane Society has keeps close tabs on rodeo animals and ensures that they are not being mistreated. So do the stock contractors, because their living depends on these animals. So rest assured that what you saw was not cruel treatment.

2) The kids involved in the calf scramble are 4-H and FFA members. Most of them plan on being involved with animals in some way or another as a career, whether in agriculture or veterinary medicine. They have been raising animals for years (chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs) and are well aware of what happens to the animals they raise. It isn't a shock to such kids what happens to the Grand Champion Steer -- as a former teacher of the girl who raised last year's Grand Champion Steer, I can assure you of that fact.

3) The sale of the Grand Champions and other animals is a major source of the scholarship money. Yesterday they sold this year's Grand Champion Steer for $340,000. After the girl who raised it gets her cut, that is still $265,000 that goes for scholarships. The Reserve Grand Champion (second place) went for $250,000, and put $210,000 in the pot. In real terms, that means that 38 students will be receiving the $12,500 rodeo scholarships from the auction of those two animals. My only regret is that this year's prices were a bit low compared to some past years.

4) Do you have any better suggestions on how to raise that money, or are you only going to complain? After all, I don't think that it would be nearly so much fun to watch the kids wrestle animal rights activists to the ground, nor is there enough meat on their bones to make a reasonable barbecue when they are grown. I certainly know that animal rights activists would not bring much money at auction.

Not the place for a war tribute

While attending the rodeo last weekend, I was taken aback by the tribute given the U.S. military. Although it was touted as "support for our troops," it was apparent that the real purpose was to generate support for the failing war policies of the Bush administration.

I don't believe the rodeo is the appropriate place to try to bolster support for an unjustified war that more and more people are realizing is not worth the great loss of life that has been experienced by our troops and by the Iraqi people.

The rodeo chairman gave a speech preceding the tribute and claimed we should show our support for the troops because they are "fighting to protect our freedom." This is bunk!

The war in Iraq has nothing to do with the freedoms that we so cherish in this nation.

I tire of the politicians and others who support this war and claim that it protects us in America.

If they wanted to support our troops, they would bring them home.

The Woodlands

I don't know whether I should be bored or outraged by Ms. Cortina's letter.

Ms. Cortina, I've only been to the rodeo eight times this year, but I've noticed that at every single one of the performances the crowd has jumped to their feet to applaud the serving members of the armed forces who are being honored when they march in. I think that indicates that most of us disagree with you about the propriety of honoring the troops -- as do most Texans. We also tend to disagree with you about the war. If you don't agree with us, sit down, shut up, and let us have our moment of honoring the troops. And if you cannot do that much, might I suggest that you stay home from future performances so you are not offended by the three minute video accompanied by the singing of "God Bless America" by which you are so troubled. After all, we have just as much right to our belief as you do.

No returning, rain or shine

A March 8 Chronicle report on the rodeo had a headline that said, "Numbers down despite concert crowds," and blamed the recent rain for lower attendance. Let me tell you the real reason for attendance decline: poor transportation and parking policies.

My husband and I took two of our grandchildren to the Houston Livestock Show last week. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. to find the yellow cash parking entrance closed. We had to go out and back to South Main and around to enter at the purple lot entrance and then drive back to the yellow area to park, seemingly miles from where we needed to be.

After making our way to the tram station, we found it operates only after 4:00 p.m., so we had to walk around the Texans' training facility and over the road to get to the Reliant entrance.

This was an incredibly long walk with two small children. The rain was just a small part of our troubles. We would have taken a shuttle bus from a Park 'n Ride facility, but they only run after 5 p.m. on weekdays!

We decided not to take our other two grandchildren as planned, nor are we likely to attempt this "adventure" in future years.


Mrs. Sweet, all you had to do was plan in advance and you would not have had that problem. If you had bothered to plan, you would have known that there is very little paid parking on the grounds of Reliant Park. That is why they advise you to take the Rodeo Shuttle. And no, they do not run only from 5:00 AM -- there is the Reed Road lot about three miles from Reliant Park that operates from 5:00 AM. Had you gone there (like HLSR advises), you would have found plenty of parking on a day during the middle of Spring Break when the star performer for the rodeo was going to be Kenny Chesney, one of the hottest stars in country music. You really can't blame the event planners for your failure to check out the situation in advance.

Anyway, that's how I see the letters about the Rodeo in today's Houston Chronicle. We still have one more week of rodeo left, and there are still tickets available for most of the performances. Come on down if you can!


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