ATLANTIC CITY — Nobody was going to rope any steer Thursday morning at Boardwalk Hall, but Guy Collins attached long loops of lassoing rope to his two horses anyway.
“We’ll make it look a little better,” Collins said with a smile.
The Buena Vista Township resident was part of a promotional event for the second Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo, which will be at the Hall from March 30 to April 1. Collins, Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford and an enormous bull named T.C. were among the featured attractions at Thursday’s event.
Collins, 56, will compete in team roping at the Boardwalk Rodeo and several other Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events throughout the summer.
But on Thursday, he and his horses, Baxter and Black, had a different job: Get people’s attention.
Shortly after stepping onto the Boardwalk, that mission was accomplished.
“I just want to borrow him and take him on the beach!” Atlantic City resident Karlene Blair said as she rushed up to pet Baxter.
Blair didn’t know about the rodeo coming to town, but after talking to Collins, she wanted to know the dates.
“I’m going to make sure I get tickets to that,” she said.
Collins and Glen Yeo, a former bareback rider from Englishtown, Monmouth County, rode the horses up and down the Boardwalk between the Hall and The Pier at Caesars. They stopped and talked to people. The affable Collins even let 3-year-old Matthew Auer, of Absecon, briefly take his spot in the saddle atop Baxter.
“Most of the guys that do this stuff (rodeos), we’re all in people-oriented businesses,” said Collins, a general contractor. “Any time I get to play with the horses, be around new people and say hello, I enjoy it.”
The horses were just as friendly. Collins chalked up the horses’ demeanor to them needing to be well-trained for roping events. But Franklin Township, Gloucester County, resident Lisa Brandolini, an exercise rider who was there to help Collins, said he is responsible for the horses behaving so well around people.
“He horse whispers,” she said.
Collins was paid for the appearance. In addition to skipping a day of work, he had to miss the funeral of a friend’s mother (although he had hoped to get there for the end of it).
“Guy is phenomenal,” rodeo chairwoman Janet Markowitz said. “When he says he’s going to be there, he’s there.”
He’s not there often, however, when it comes to Atlantic City. In fact, before a similar promotional event last year, Collins hadn’t been to the resort in about 15 years, even though his wife, Theresa, works in information technology at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
“I don’t gamble,” he said. “My gambling is rodeoing. Because this is not a cheap sport.”
Collins, who raced cars and boats when he was younger, pays for his summers of rodeoing by working a lot during the off-season.
As he shook the dirt from last summer out of some of his equipment Thursday, he noted that Baxter and Black had not been ridden for the past four months. He struggled to get the saddles on since the horses had put on weight.
But it won’t be long before he’ll start practicing for the Boardwalk Rodeo.
“The adrenaline is there when you’re walking into an arena with thousands of people,” Collins said.
The hope is that Thursday’s event went a long way toward drawing those people.
“Whatever the PRCA needs,” Collins said. “I’m committed.”
Second annual Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo
When: 7:30 p.m. March 30; 7:30 p.m. March 31; 1 p.m. April 1
Where: Boardwalk Hall
Tickets: $16-$102 per day, available through http://calendar.goac.com/atlantic-city-nj/events/show/195148106-2-nd-annual-atlantic-city-boardwalk-rodeo"> PressofAtlanticCity.com/tickets or the Boardwalk Hall Box Office.
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