(La Porte, IN) - For LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd, last week’s 4th of July parade was bittersweet. It was his last parade as sheriff. And in a way, it was a final ride into the sunset.
Boyd said La Porte’s parade has always been special to him. “Some of my earliest memories are going to the parade with my father,” Boyd reminisced. “I remember when he was a Jaycee back in the late 1960s, early 1970s, and going with him and watching the parade as it lined up.”
Boyd has been in many parades since then, seven as county sheriff. He made it a point to approach the event with an air of humility. “I didn’t drive the parade route,” he said. “I always walked it, so I could be on the same level with the folks that are along the route.”
But this year was a little different.
Boyd said, “I guess I came to the realization this year that this was going to be my last 4th of July parade as a member of the Sheriff’s Office.” So he decided he would experience his last parade in a special way—on horseback.
La Porte County has a posse of volunteer officers who occasionally are called upon to combine their horsemanship with crime fighting. They help with crowd control and sometimes find evidence or missing persons. And they’re a staple in the summer parade. “I wanted to go down the parade route as they see it,” said Boyd. “They were gracious enough not only to provide me a horse, but give me some instruction, and help me down the parade route.”
Boyd said he owns and rides his own horses, but managing one on a busy parade route is a different thing. “It’s a lot different riding in my pasture or riding in a state park,” he said, “as opposed to riding down a route when people are throwing Snap N Pops, and there’s M80s going off.” Even the best trained La Porte County horse isn’t prepared for A-10s and helicopters roaring overhead.
Boyd said there were a couple of tense moments that tested his riding skills. At one point in the parade, an umbrella took sail in a gust of wind and spooked the horses. But order prevailed.
Boyd rode a horse named Dorothy, who was donated to the mounted posse by a friend of his and now belongs to posse member Dale Thomas. “She was fantastic,” said a relieved Boyd. “At the end of the parade, we made sure to give her some cold carrots as a reward for having to put up with me being on her back down that route.”
It might not be every little boy’s dream to be sheriff and ride a horse in your hometown parade, but it should be. Last Monday John Boyd lived the dream, thanks to his fellow lawmen and a horse named Dorothy.