A rootin’ tootin’ good time filled the air at the Lions Club Park Senior Center on Thursday for the first Indoor Independence Day Rodeo.

More than 300 seniors — many dressed in festive red, white and blue outfits — participated in rodeo-themed activities as steer roping, chicken herding and barrel racing.

“It’s a play on words and I try to bring life to the program because seniors are fun-loving and very patriotic, so we combined all that into one event today,” said Debbie Edwards, manager of the Bob Gilmore and Lions Club Park senior centers.

After listening to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by Wanda Gunther, Ladies of the Red Hats led by Olga Cain, 73, carried American flags and marched in to a rousing version of “God Bless the USA” that had everyone singing and cheering.

“It’s a wonderful way for the seniors to celebrate the Fourth of July and we get to eat good food, too,” said Cain, Red Hats queen bee.

The Fort Hood Volunteers served lunch cooked by veterans of Killeen with dessert furnished by The Sweet Factory.

OK, so the “chickens” are surgical gloves with feathers attached; the “hog” a woman in costume; the “cow” simply a fake head ropers use in their practice; and the “horses” were of the stick variety, but what the first rodeo lacked in living, breathing livestock, it more than made up for in fun.

Musical entertainment was provided by the Song Birds Choir, M.E.C.A.TX and the Killeen Kickers.

“I’m thankful Debbie Edwards came up with this idea for seniors on the Fourth of July because it’s needed in Killeen,” said Daniel Kott, music coordinator with M.E.C.A.TX. After the opening ceremony, the fun really began with a spirited hog-calling contest, followed by a chicken-herding event, steer roping and barrel racing.

“It’s not the same old standard rodeo you go to — it’s just totally odd,” Edwards said. “We want everybody to loosen up and have a great time.”

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