We are honored to announce that the Grand Marshal of this year’s Elks Rodeo Parade is our very own Joni Gray.
Joni’s list of service to the community and her accomplishments are too long to list here. Some of you probably took a class from her when she taught at Santa Maria High School or Allan Hancock College. And others of you probably know her from her involvement with youth organizations such as 4-H or the North County Round Table. She is a successful attorney and served in the local courts. She is probably best known for serving as County Supervisor for the 4th District from 1998 – 2012. But we would like to focus on her involvement with Santa Maria Elks Lodge 1538.
Joni’s involvement with the Rodeo goes back to when at four-years-old she rode her horse Ol’ Ace in the Elks Rodeo Parade. From then on the Elks Rodeo and Parade became a family event. Her dad Joe, mother Norma, and sister Dorothy did not miss a Parade for decades to follow.
In the late 1950’s the family was asked to lead the Parade as the official Color Bearers. The family eventually grew to nine riders, all carrying flags and riding black horses. In 1960 Joni rode in the Parade twice, once with her family on horseback and then as an Elks Queen contestant on the Queen float. Joni represented the Elks in the Sweetheart of Salinas Rodeo contest where she was chosen Miss Personality and Appearance.
With eight other young horse women she organized and rode with the first Elk’s Color Guard mounted, which represented the Santa Maria Elks Lodge #1538 around the arena—a standard Rodeo event which continues to today.
In 1998 Joni’s father, Joe Gray, served as Grand Marshal of the Rodeo Parade, which was also Joni’s last year on horseback for the Rodeo. She holds being Grand Marshall this year as a great honor.
Finally, Joni has served as an announcer of the Elks Rodeo Parade for so long no one remembers when she started! The Parade Committee is extremely honored to have Joni Gray as the Grand Marshal of the 2016 Elks Rodeo and Parade.
For more information, please call the Elks Recreation Office at (805) 925-4125.