National Western Stock Show announces Thunder as 2018 parade grand marshal
DENVER — The National Western Stock Show is excited to re-announce Denver icon and Broncos’ team mascot, Thunder, as the 2018 parade grand marshal.
Last year the stock show parade was cancelled due to weather, preventing Thunder from acting as grand marshal. On Thursday, Jan. 4, Thunder, owner Sharon Magness Blake and rider/trainer Ann Judge, will lead the tradition of Longhorn cattle, horses and western wagons through the streets of downtown Denver to celebrate the start of the 2018 NWSS. The parade begins at noon at Union Station and marches 15 blocks down 17th St.
“Unfortunately, we did not have a parade last year and so we are thrilled for a second chance to celebrate Thunder, not only as the best mascot in the NFL, but also as a symbol of our western spirit and a representative of the equine community,” said Paul Andrews, president and CEO of the NWSS. “Sharon, Ernie and Ann are an invaluable part of the stock show family and embody the western lifestyle. We appreciate them sharing Thunder with us and with all of Denver.”
Owners Sharon Magness Blake and Ernie Blake are celebrating Thunder’s 26th year as the Broncos’ mascot, and they have been equestrian ambassadors for more than three decades.
“After being involved at the stock show for over 30 years, I am so excited that Thunder has received the honor of being the grand marshal of the stock show parade,” Magness Blake said. “Thunder is one of the most amazing horses I have ever owned.”
Thunder (III), a 2000 grey Arabian gelding registered as Me N Myshadow, initially served as the understudy for Thunder II and was trained specifically for the role of team mascot. While that might be where their main focus lies, Thunder and rider/trainer Ann Judge have many duties off the football field.
Thunder makes annual appearances at the NWSS, equestrian events, Magness Blake’s Western Fantasy fundraiser, public exhibitions, charity functions and visits to schools and hospitals.
“I have been both a horse show judge and an exhibitor at the stock show for over 20 years, but nothing will be as thrilling as piloting Thunder along the parade route as he serves as the grand marshal of the National Western Stock Show,” Judge said.
The stock show parade concludes with the annual barbecue lunch, sponsored by Colorado State University, in the atrium of the Wells Fargo Building at 17th St. and Broadway, 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m. Lunch guests will enjoy great western barbecue, music and the city of Denver’s proclamation of Jan. 4, 2018 as Dress Western Day in Denver. The barbecue is open to the public and benefits the 4-H International Youth Group. Lunch tickets are $10. ❖