Stampede Memories from 1991

It was 1993, and I was at Fort Calgary waiting to ride in the Stampede Parade with the Queens Alumni Colour Guard. I was a new member of the Rodeo Committee and had spent lots of time with that gang. While I was walking through the hustle and bustle of Parade morning, I came upon John Rule, a rodeo committee member, holding a horse, so I stopped to visit. As we were chatting, the intended rider of the horse arrived. He was tall with jet black hair and Caribbean blue eyes. He wore a brown leather-fringed coat, cowboy boots, and a great big smile. At first I didn’t recognize him without his blue tights and red cape, but then it came to me – it was Superman! He and John exchanged words as if they were old friends, then Christopher Reeve picked up the reins, mounted the horse in one fluid motion and rode off. 

I turned to John, punched him in the arm as hard as I could and said, “How could you?”

“Oww, What?” he said

“How could you not introduce me to Superman?!” I yelled.

Well, from then on, John has tried to introduce me to numerous Superman imposters.

My Dad is a big Jack Palance fan.

“You know he can do one armed push ups at 73!!” My dad exclaimed. Knowing that Jack would be the 1997 Parade Marshal – my dad asked me if I could get his City Slickers Video Tape (yes, video tape!) signed by him, and I gladly took on the challenge.

Being part of the Queens Alumni Committee, I had the opportunity to ride in the Calgary Stampede Parade in the Queens Alumni color guard. My plan was to ride to 6th street, jump off my horse and get one of the girls to hold him, run four blocks with video tape, marker, and camera and ask Jack Palance to sign the video tape.  Somehow – I managed to pull it all off! When I reached the stage coach that Jack was riding on, I met up with our Stampede President, Roger Jarvis.

Roger looked at me all sweaty and asked what I was doing there. Out of breath from all my running, I managed to say between breathes that my dad was a huge fan, and asked if Mr. Palance would please sign the City Slickers video tape for him.

Roger – being a true gentleman – introduced me to Mr. Palance as one of our former royalty and asked if he would sign the video tape. 

Jack Palance looked true to his movies - a true grit, rugged cowboy type.  He looked down at me, slightly grinned and signed the video tape and allowed me to take his picture. Feeling a little intimidated by this enormous man both in height and personality, I thanked him profusely and then thanked Roger and proceed to run back the four blocks to our space in the parade just before the parade was about to begin. Mission accomplished! The things daughters do for their Dads!

And finally – in 1998, I was the production coordinator for the Chuckwagon Races up in the “Eye in the Sky” located at the top of the grandstand. My job consisted of making sure videos and Chuckwagon heat times got on the Super Board and that the stage presentations proceeded on stage. 

I had just finished with a video on the Super Board, and as per my routine, would go into another room and get the heat times. As I turned I ran smack into a wall of black, when I looked way up I saw a salt and pepper mustache (shaped kind of like Lanny McDonald’s), these kind, gentle eyes and a black hat that fit this man so well you couldn’t picture him with it off. 

Then this gorgeous voice, “Excuse me Miss” as I looked more closely I realized it was Sam Elliot! He looked like he just walked off the set of Tombstone. You know the scene, the one where he’s walking down to the OK Corral. So handsome and that voice!

As he continued to talk in that deep southern accent, and apologize for getting in the way of my work – I, in my stunned state, started to apologize back to him. I remember thinking he was such a gentleman as I hurried away to get the times for the last Chuckwagon race.

I went back to try and find him again to welcome him to the Calgary Stampede, but he had already disappeared. It was a short lived meeting – but is one I have never forgotten!

1991 Calgary Stampede Princess Alison Ross