ATLANTIC CITY — Clutching the straw cowboy hat on her head, 2-year-old Aiza Durrani watched apprehensively as her father, Fawad, petted a miniature horse on the Boardwalk on Friday.
Horses paraded in front of Boardwalk Hall and a boot contest was held in advance of the Boardwalk Rodeo this weekend.
Durrani, of Delaware, eventually eased forward to pet Lickity Split, the horse used during one of two entertainment acts by Jerry Olson, of Nebraska, in the middle of the rodeo.
Olson and three cowboys were on the Boardwalk just after noon with many curious pedestrians.
“Some ask if (the horse) will kick or bite,” cowboy Chris Soto, of Virginia, said from atop his horse. Mostly it’s the adults who are afraid, he said.
Pat Cetrone, visiting from Pottstown, Pa., was excited to see the horses on the Boardwalk. As a former rider, she said she was happy to find out about the event today and Sunday and may go, because she is in town.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford judged a Show Us Your Boots contest, a spoof of the Miss America Organization’s Show Us Your Shoes parade, at Kennedy Plaza.
He chose the boots of Butch Kirby, who is with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Kirby, a former rider and a 1978 bull-riding champion, is from cowboy country — Texas.
His wife, Jo, said that while Kirby is comfortable in his spurs and hat, the looks of confusion and odd gazes while he walks through the casinos are amusing.
The Boardwalk is an unusual venue for the rodeo, although it provides unique challenges not present at other rodeos, Jo Kirby said.
Typically, a rodeo is on 5 to 10 acres of dirt to park the trailers and move the horses.
“We are used to dirt on our boots, but here it’s concrete,” she said.
The horses are kept in stables about 30 miles outside the city, and carpets are rolled out when they arrive at the hall to prevent them from slipping on the concrete, Jo Kirby said. She added it is cumbersome to feed and care for horses at such a distance.
But the view is worth it, she said.
“To be able to walk out the front doors and there’s the ocean and the Boardwalk — it’s wonderful,” Jo Kirby said.
Janet Markowitz, of Margate, chairwoman of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo, said this is a unique event and very different from other types of sporting events because the action never stops.
“It really is fun for the whole family, and the minute you sit down, it just goes and doesn’t stop,” she said.
Contact Anjalee Khemlani:
@AnjKhem on Twitter
If you go
When: 7:30 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City
Tickets: $20 to $80 at the Boardwalk Hall box office, Ticketmaster or PressofAtlanticCity.com/tickets