Prescott Rodeo honors fallen firefighters

July 04, 2013

As the country celebrates Independence Day, Prescott is still in mourning for the 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire on Sunday. Holiday festivities are continuing -- but not as originally planned.

yarnell fire Brayden Lee is one of many rodeo lovers who packed the stands at what's billed as "the world's oldest rodeo" in Prescott on Wednesday. (Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)

The Granite Mountain Hotshots are being honored all over Prescott, from makeshift posters to church marquees. And every night through Sunday, their names can be seen on a big screen at the annual rodeo.

On Wednesday night, the stands were packed, but as the emcee described the elite firefighters, the crowd was silent.

"They were doing what they did as good as anybody in this world could do it: fighting a wildfire. Join us now as we present a riderless horse in their memory and scroll their names on the board," the emcee said.

As a cowboy led the riderless horse around the arena, everyone stood motionless and somber.

But only a few minutes later, the audience was cheering and clapping as the rodeo got underway. And the emcee said that's how the hotshots would have wanted it.

The town is still planning a Fourth of July celebration for Thursday, with fireworks and tributes to the fallen firefighters included.