Mary Thompson, ranch wife and longtime member of Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club, and Todd Branson, Palomino Horse Breeders Heritage Foundation, will
return to the Rogers tomb on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Will Rogers Memorial Museum opened Nov. 4, 1938, three years after the death of the man who still remains Oklahoma’s most recognizable native. Thousands of people dotted the hillside of the Memorial, streets were teeming with horses and floats for a giant parade — and there was gridlock on the highway between Tulsa and Claremore.
Will Rogers Days have been observed every year since that date except for early war years.
“Today events surrounding November 4, the date of Will’s birth on an Indian Territory ranch near Oologah, remain one of the state’s largest Will Rogers events,” said Tad Jones, Museum executive director.
Plans are underway to combine a number of events going on in Claremore and all of Rogers County during Will Rogers Days Nov. 3-6, with Museum activities to return the celebration to the excitement of those days.
From the Pumpkin Festival at Shepherd’s Cross and plans for downtown Oologah and the Birthplace Ranch to the J.M Davis Arms & Historical Museum, downtown Claremore and up Will Rogers Boulevard to Art on the Hill and the 19th Annual Native American Festival at Rogers State University, Will Rogers Memorial’s celebration of Will Rogers Days will be multi-day festivities at the Museum and throughout the community.
“Will was always about community,” Jones said. “He wrote about coming home to family gatherings and feasts, visiting in downtown Claremore, Oologah and Chelsea, and going to rodeos and ropings.”
The Will Rogers Days finale will be a parade down the street named for him in 1948 and the American Cowboys Rodeo Association Finals at the Claremore Expo Center.
Palomino Horse Breeders Heritage Foundation, with Todd Branson riding a Palomino, will lead the Sunday afternoon parade. In 1948, the same year a Will Rogers three-cent commemorative stamp was issued, more than 100 members of the Palomino Association rode in the parade on onto the grounds where 69 mounted riders (in honor of Will’s 69th birthday) rode down the steps to the Rogers’ family tomb and placed a wreath. Comanche, one of Will’s favorite mounts, was a Palomino.
Branson will ride to the tomb at 12:30 p.m. prior to the parade and with members of the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club; place a wreath at the tomb. Family members, friends of Will, actors, sports stars, Indian chiefs, politicians, bands, the famous and infamous have participated in Will Rogers Days in the past 78 years. The one constant — every year since the Museum opened, the Pocahontas Club, founded in 1899, has place a wreath at the tomb in honor of the friend and neighbor they accepted as an honorary member.
Will Rogers Days Special events include:
— Pumpkin Festival, Shepherd’s Cross, Sept. 22 through Nov. 5
— Christmas at the Belvidere, Nov. 3-5
— Children’s Day at the Museum, Nov. 3 (featuring Kowboy Kal)
— Birthday Party at the Ranch, Nov. 4 (featuring Kowboy Kal and Oologah elementary students)
— Art on the Hill, Rogers State University, Nov. 5-6
— American Cowboys Rodeo Association Finals, Nov. 3-6
— Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club, Hats Off to Will Gala, Nov. 5
— Native American Festival, Powwow, Rogers State University, Nov. 5
— Street Shopping, Oologah Cooweescoowee Avenue, Nov. 5
— First Saturday Claremore downtown shopping, Nov. 5
— J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum Shootout, Nov. 5
— Route 66 Cruisers Car Show, Will Rogers Memorial Museum, Nov. 5
— Pony Express Ride, Sunday, Nov. 6
— Will Rogers Days Parade, 2 p.m. Sunday Nov. 6
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