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Merced Sheriffs Posse pays homage to Roy Rogers in Rose Parade
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The Merced County Sheriff’s Posse will be prancing down the streets of Pasadena come Monday as they take part in the 123rd annual Rose Parade.

The 13 riders and their palomino horses will be part of a larger group paying homage to one of the most famous cowboys — Roy Rogers, in recognition of his 100th birthday.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Posse was formed in 1948 and consists of all volunteer riders. This will be their first appearance at the Rose Parade, but by no means their first parade. The group participates in an average of 25 parades per year, traveling more than 3,000 miles yearly.

In the past the posse has represented Merced County in the 1973 Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. and the country’s bi-centennial parade in Washington D.C. in 1976. They were the only equestrians from California to be invited to participate in the Inaugural Parade for George W. Bush in 2005.

The posse, which prefers to perform a slow trot down parade routes, has won numerous awards. Most recently, they took home two first place awards at the 2011 Salinas Rodeo Parade Weekend.

In addition to parades, the posse serves as color guards at many of the Portuguese Bloodless Bullfights and as goodwill ambassadors for the sheriff’s department.

Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin called the group’s inclusion in the Rose Parade an honor for the whole community.

The posse will be decked out in dark blue pants and shirts embroidered with festive flowers and Swarovski crystals, white felt hats and red silk kerchiefs.

The riding gear, aside from the saddles, are sterling silver.

The members of the posse are: Laurette Locke of Hilmar; Frank L. Vierra of Hilmar; Daniel Vierra of Modesto; Richard Ellington of Hilmar; Juanita Ellington of Hilmar; Manuel P. King of Ripon; Patty Shaft of Taft; Linda Robertson of Bakersfield; Loren Lopes of Turlock; Roger Gonsalves of Turlock; Julie Gonsalves of Turlock; Eric Gonsalves of Ballico; and Michael Mendes of Hilmar.

The 2012 Rose Parade will be broadcast on ABC starting at 8 a.m. Monday, which keeps with the parade’s long-standing tradition of “Never on a Sunday.”

The grand marshal for the parade is Iraq war veteran, actor and spokesman J.R. Martinez.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.