Steamboat Springs Children were being children Sunday morning as they lined Lincoln Avenue, waiting for the stars of the Saddleback Ranch cattle drive.
"See any cows yet?" a boy in a Cubs cap asked his friends, peering westward toward 13th Street. "Can we at least just get on with the cows?"
A light drizzle misted over hundreds of folks who were tucked into sweatshirts and hats against the chill. A woman struggled to cheer up a boy whose face was as cloudy as the sky.
"I'm going to turn you over and shake you until all the happy bubbles in your toes reach your head," she said, hugging him and laughing.
Parents tried all manner of tactics to amuse the youngsters as the time stretched toward 10:15 a.m. Some were teaching: "Many cows are called cattle," a mom told her son.
Others were checking out
license plates of passing cars: "Montana. Do we have Montana?" a woman asked her crew.
Six-year-old Amber Slusser waited on the lap of her mom, Jenny, near Sixth Street. She stayed pretty patient, just once asking how soon the cows would arrive. Her experience with the cattle drive might have accounted for her relaxed attitude. Her family comes up from Littleton each year, and Amber saw the procession last year.
"I like all the baby cows," she said.
Cowboys and cowgirls finally herded the cattle onto the road just before 10:20 a.m., heading east from 13th Street toward Fifth Street, where they would turn toward the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.
At that point, several children started suffering from a severe case of the repeats.
"There they are! There they are!" one boy yelled to his family.
"Here they come! Here they come!" another shouted.
"Holy cow," said one boy, grinning. He called his parents' attention to his pun. "Hey, Mom, holy cow."
"Ha," she replied.
Dozens of black, red, brown and white cattle tromped along, sending up cow complaints along the way. The crowd dispersed behind them, with some folks moving east to keep pace with the animals and others heading to breakfast, stores or other shelter.
Melanie Pien and her 10-year-old son, Kai, walked along near the Routt County Courthouse. Kai clutched a white speckled 1-pound jawbreaker and chattered happily.
"Mom, I was the first one to see the cows," Kai said. "I'm famous in the family."
The Piens were visiting from southeastern New York state.
"They don't do this there," Melanie Pien said with a chuckle.
The cattle drive was cool, mother and son agreed. Kai's favorite part was one of the animals leading the way, an impressive-looking beast with enormous horns.
"That was amazing," Pien said of the drive. "It was a lot of fun."
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