By Katy Trumbull
Autumn kicked off with a boot-stompin’ good time at the 38th annual Oakland Black Cowboy Association Parade and Festival Saturday, Oct. 6 at DeFremery Park in West Oakland.
Celebrated on the first Saturday in October since Lonnie Scoggins, Sr., founded the event in 1974, the Oakland Black Cowboy Association (O.B.C.A.) Parade and Festival is a display of impressive horsemanship and a safe and fun environment for the entire family.
Association President Wilbert F. McAlister, alongside D.J. Lola Love of 90.1fm KZSU, was grand marshal of the parade, keeping the crowd entertained with his dance moves and humorous commentary.
McAlister has been president of the organization for nearly nine years and proclaims that the Oakland Black Cowboy Association “is not just for Blacks or cowboys. Anyone who wants to educate, be peaceful, and pass the word along, can join.”
This year, the parade featured many entries, ranging from Skyline High School’s Titans R.O.T.C. drill team, to the Red Hat Society Fantasy Queens, to Los Charros de Lincoln.
Many participants were clubs, organizations, and members of the Oakland and Bay Area communities. Some of these have been participating in the parade since near its inception.
After the parade, the festival began in true Oakland style, with a dance party, as the crowd joined the parade participants in the street to line-dance the cowboy shuffle and the boot-scootin’ boogie.
Food vendors sold B.B.Q. and fried catfish, and local merchants peddled their fare of handmade jewelry, cowboy hats, and goods celebrating African-American heritage.
Children were allowed to meet and pet some of the horses that performed in the parade, and their joy and awe at such close-encounters with the large equines was evident in the smiles on their faces.
Elijha McAlister, 22, grandson of O.B.C.A.’s president, Wilbert McAlister, said the excitement was the very reason he has enjoyed being a member of the Oakland Black Cowboy Association for over 12 years, because he “loves to see the kids smile.”