NORMAN — The Sooner Teamsters Trail Riders Association will launch its 35th annual trek from the Lawton area to Norman Thursday.
Seeking to reenact the famed journey and land run of Oklahoma’s pioneer settlers, the trail riders will leave behind modern transportation and spend two weeks making their way on a 144 mile journey the old-fashioned way.
“It’s just you and your horse or wagon and your fellow riders, it’s like a big family moving together,” said Association Secretary and rider Lillian Guess. “You really start communicating with people more, you learn to sit down and really talk to people.”
This slowing-down factor is the key draw for many participants, like Association President Tom Thompson.
“It’s my vacation. You notice things going down the road on horseback that you wouldn’t notice going 50 plus miles per hour in a car.”
Additionally, it’s a unique opportunity to connect with community members of all ages along the way.
“It’s like an eight day parade. We go through towns and by schools and senior citizen centers. It’s not uncommon for us to be on the road and have vehicles pull over to watch us go by and take pictures,” Thompson said.
Upon reaching their destination April 19, the wagon train will camp at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds before participating in Norman’s ’89er Day Parade.
“The wagon train is a nod to the original history of the land run,” said ’89er Day Parade Committee Chair Charles Hollingsworth. “The riders look like authentic cowboys after a week in the field, and we feed them a great barbecue dinner at the fairgrounds. It’s a great experience.”
The ’89er Parade also will feature multiple bands and about 25 antique cars, Hollingsworth said. Those interested in participating in the parade may still submit an application form. For more information, visit norman89er.com.
Horseback riders interested in joining the wagon train during their journey may contact wagon master Robert Palmer at 924-0022 or Guess at 306-9147.