Union Pacific initially refused to do it, ending a years-long tradition. Had Union Pacific not changed its mind, parade organizers may have had to change the route or deal with the trains, a safety hazard for the horses, riders and parade goers.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade, the “world’s longest non-motorized parade," begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. KOLD News 13 will broadcast the two-hour parade live and stream it online.
The parade route begins on Ajo Highway, about a half-mile west of Park Avenue. The parade will roll down Ajo, turn right on Park Avenue, then right on Irvington Road and right on Sixth Avenue before ending at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.
"(We) appreciate the collaboration and cooperation of Union Pacific for helping us produce the safest possible parade,” the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee said in a news release. “Safety is the most important aspect of our parade planning for the participants, spectators and our volunteers.”
Every year, the committee submits a request to Union Pacific to stop train traffic during the parade. In early January, the TRPC was shocked to find out their request was denied.
At the time, Union Pacific said it "strongly encouraged organizers to plan a route that does not cross our tracks.” The company also said it promised its engineers would blow the horns longer than normal to give everyone a warning.
The TRPC said it had serious concerns over Union Pacific’s initial decision. A parade spokesman said the horns could spook the hundreds of horses in the parade, especially those lined up near the tracks.
Over 150,000 people head out to the area near the rodeo grounds to watch the parade each year.
The parade route begins on Ajo Highway, about a half-mile west of Park Avenue. The parade rolls down Ajo, turns right on Park Avenue, then right on Irvington Road and right on Sixth Avenue before ending at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.
The TRPC said it wants to remind everyone to stay safe.
“(We are) always concerned about anything that can distract the horses and cause an unsafe condition,” the TRPC said. "City ordinances prohibit noisemakers such as balloons, firecrackers, cap guns or other items that may startle the animals.
“Spectators may not enter or cross the street once the parade starts. Drones are prohibited from flying over crowds of people and Tucson Police will be on alert for drone activity.”