STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Mickey Bowman couldn’t have been more effusive about Saturday morning’s Durango Cowboy Gathering’s Motorless Parade, or about Durango itself.
“I’m extremely humbled” to be asked to be the parade’s grand marshal, he said. “It’s beyond any expectations” for personal recognition.
Bowman, 70, is the former manager of Basin Coop’s Durango store. He retired last year after serving the community for 35 years.
He said it had been a privilege to work with the co-op employees, as well as the customers and community.
“It’s been a privilege working with the people (there),” Bowman said. “I miss the people.”
Bowman decided that because of his age and health issues, it was time to retire.
“I decided to turn it over to the younger ones; it was time,” he said.
However, Bowman said he had not exactly planned what he would do in retirement, so his role as grand marshal helped focus a little of his time since being asked.
Bowman was asked to be the Motorless Parade’s grand marshal last spring. But is was entirely unexpected.
“I’ve never tried to be recognized for anything,” he said.
His modest demeanor apparently is typical, said others at the parade, and he goes back to the people he worked with.
“I loved what I (did),” he said. “I was blessed by having fantastic people around me. I wish everybody had that opportunity.”
Saturday also was the first time in two years that his whole family had a chance to be together, so the time after the parade was devoted to them, Bowman said.
Bowman, in his cowboy hat, bolo tie and gray felt vest was representative of what the Durango Cowboy Gathering is all about, said Jon Schuetz. Schuetz was the La Plata County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol coordinator for the parade. He also owns Rio Grande Trading Co. and the Diamond Circle Gift Shop.
The Gathering is “the only ability we’ve got to keep the (Western) lifestyle alive,” Schuetz said.
He said that the four days of events help others understand the importance of Western values, agriculture and ranching in particular through poetry and music and the motorless parade.
“All that stuff is going away quickly,” Schuetz said. The Gathering’s events allow visitors “to get up close and personal, so people understand it.”
He said the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the second-oldest such event in the country, only superseded by the national Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nev., which is in its 29th year.
Schuetz said the parade is significant for other reasons, including the inclusion of the only remaining U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard.
The presence of the Color Guard also was a tribute to Bowman, a former Marine, Schuetz said. The Color Guard is headquartered at the Marine Logistics Base in Barstow, Calif., where it was formed during the Vietnam War in 1967.
The Motorless Parade also brings the community together in what Al Harper called the “paradingest town.”
Harper, chairman, CEO and co-owner of the parent company of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, said, “Durango is like all of America ought to be. It brings out the best in everybody.”