ATLANTIC CITY -- Horses and a stagecoach paraded under a light fog before reaching Boardwalk Hall on Monday morning to promote the return of the Boardwalk Rodeo in October.
As the caravan traveled from the Tanger Outlets mall onto the Boardwalk and finally the arena, visitors stopped to see the pony and a dozen horses, including a red horse pulling the stagecoach. Some took pictures with the horses, while others used them as a backdrop for photos.
Sally and Tom Thomas from Freeport, Pa., said the sight of horses along the Boardwalk was unusual.
"Maybe it wouldn't have been at the turn of the century, but now it is," Tom Thomas said.
"I figured it had something to do with a rodeo," said Sally Thomas.
Atlantic City will kick off the 2013 rodeo season for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, which begins at Boardwalk Hall on Oct. 5 and 6, said event producer John Barnes, from Sutherland, Iowa.
Contestants from all over the country, including Texas, Florida, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as other parts of the world including Canada and New Zealand, will compete in the two day event, he said.
At the kickoff event, Mayor Lorenzo Langford said he was excited for the chance to ride a horse at the start of the event in October.
Ticket sales begin Friday for the rodeo, which will take place for the third straight year in the resort.
Boardwalk Rodeo chairwoman Janet Markowitz said the previous two years the rodeo was held in April over three days, but this year all the events will be consolidated into two days for logistical reasons. The event will open the association’s year, which Markowitz said she hopes will draw more people from around the East Coast to the resort.
“It’s just so exciting to be the first of the season,” she said. “We notice we get a lot of local people as well as people from Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. We hope this will bring even more people this year.”
Boardwalk Hall's capacity for the rodeo has been 8,696. The first year, the three-day attendance total was 17,685. Last year, it was 13,921.
Despite there being only two days of competition, the prize money this year will be the same, Markowitz said. Last year, it was about $94,000 total.
“I think it’s just so different,” she said. “It’s something that’s never been held in Atlantic City before. When we didn’t have it in April we had people were calling saying ‘oh, please don’t tell me it’s been canceled.’”
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