Three Oaks Rodeo Drill Team Selected for Tournament of Roses

A hearty band of equestrian performers based in Three Oaks will take another famous ride, this time in the New Year’s Day 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.

The Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team based in Three Oaks applied last year for the 2019 parade, but only made it as an alternate and missed out on making the trip. However, back in early August, Drill Team Captain Debbie Dunphy received an exciting phone call from the chairman of the equestrian units of the Rose Parade inviting the Mid America Cowgirls to ride in famous parade on January 1, 2020.  She was asked to not announce that invitation until the selection process was complete and finally towards the end of August, she was given the go ahead to make the announcement, which they did on the team’s Facebook page. Now, she’s going wide with the news.

Thirty five equestrian units, most of which are based in California, applied for the 2020 Rose Parade and only 17 Units were accepted. Dunphy says, “It is very unusual for the Rose Parade to have equestrian units from the Midwest.”

In addition to riding in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the team will perform in Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on December 29, 2019.  That equestrian event will be televised nationally on RFD TV.

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The same team made a trip in 2017 to the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. after being invited to ride in that event.

Once the Cowgirls accepted the invitation they finalized their list of riders and ground support team going to California. Though they have a large contingent of team members, not all are able to make the trip. In addition to members going, they have a former team member who now lives in Texas who is originally from Pasadena,  who will be riding with them.  There will also be four drill team riders who live in California that Debbie knows through her drill team judging, and all have drill team experience with a team in California.

After finalizing the attendees, they worked on the budget for the trip. Travel to and from California and accommodations for the team and horses will be the majority cost of the trip. The team will take seven team horses for the performance and parade in two rigs and will rent additional horses to save some cost.

Some will be driving and hauling horses, team tack and supplies, but most will be flying to California to reduce their time away from home and work.  The team’s accommodations include hotel rooms for most and camping at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for those hauling horses in their living quarter horse trailers.

The seven horses making the trip will be boarded at the LA Equestrian Center, and the team will also have to rent a couple of vans for those team members flying to California. The Cowgirls budget also includes: Additional uniform shirts for their performance at Equestfest, additional team chaps and tack, new cowboy hats, gloves, saddle blankets, and other new items as well as rose decorations for the parade. The total budget for the Rose Parade trip is almost $50,000.

The team has been busy raising funds for the trip. They have already had some bake sales, tack sales, sold laundry soap and Scentsy items.  They are looking into a couple of fundraiser dinners with silent auctions. In addition to the fundraisers, they are looking for team sponsors with cash or item donations (Fuel cards, team tack, etc.).

The team has also set up a GoFundMe, Mid America Cowgirls to Ride in the Rose Parade, which is linked below. If you are interested in helping the team with this huge endeavor, checks (made out to Mid America Cowgirls) may be mailed to them at P.O. Box 332, Three Oaks, MI 49128.  For more information about the Mid America Cowgirls and their journey to the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade, you can email to: Here’s the link to the GoFundMe page:

Mid America Cowgirls members riding in the 2020 Tournament Rose Parade in Pasadena, California include:

  • Debbie Dunphy (Captain) – Three Oaks
  • Dawn Nalezny – Knox, IN
  • Sharon Nalezny – Chicago, IL
  • Charlotte Heiden – Rochester, IN
  • Kaitlynd Heiden-Moore – Akron, IN
  • Amanda Forraht – Berrien Springs, MI
  • Emily Forraht – Berrien Springs, MI
  • Allie Florey – Buchanan, MI
  • Karen Celmer – Walkerton, IN
  • Stephanie Freestone – Syracuse, IN
  • Lillian Freestone – Syracuse, IN
  • Lizabeth Freestone – Syracuse, IN
  • Kristina Rubio – North Liberty, IN
  • Lily Jesswein – Niles, MI
  • Tori Powell – Knox, IN
  • Lauren Bowman – Bowie, TX
  • Suzette O’Grady – Oak View, CA
  • Debbie Colicci – CA
  • Natalia Colicci – CA
  • Paula Adams-Hurd – CA