Oklahoma City is in the midst of a renaissance. New schools, restaurants, retail and residential complexes are taking up space in the heart of Oklahoma. Old and new are colliding, and naturally, change is being met with resistance. One such protestor went so far as to riot throughout downtown streets Monday night naked, charging at any innocent bystander in his way.
Four feet tall and weighing 2,000 pounds, a rodeo bull, referenced affectionately as “Rodeo Bull” by those who knew him, broke free from his stable at Oklahoma’s National Stockyards and had a final showdown with cowboys on the streets that his people once dominated.
It seemed that Rodeo Bull experienced several mood swings during the protest. The bull was mostly seen running at a high speed through the streets and seemed angry, bystanders said. At other times, Rodeo Bull could be seen striding along gleefully as he took in the new shopping venues along Walker Avenue and 10th Street. One bystander said he thought he even heard the bull whistling.
“It was like he was approving of the new downtown,” local cowboy Leather Joe said. “At one point, he nodded at me and said, ‘I wanted to see all this for myself, and I want to let you know that your people have my blessing to continue on this path. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.’”
Joe said the exchange was life-changing.
“Not only did he speak to my soul, but he started singing “Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence. That means something to me. I don’t feel guilty anymore. Not about the leather boots I buy from Langston’s and not about eating steak at Cattlemen’s [Steakhouse]. It’s what Rodeo Bull would want for me, for all of us.”
Joe allegedly conveyed Rodeo Bull’s message to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt over drinks at Cattlemen’s on Monday night after Bull’s protest.
“I told him that Rodeo Bull said to continue on with downtown’s development, that the cow community approved of it. It was an emotional conversation; we just started tearing up, partly due to that heavy weight of guilt being lifted off our shoulders and partly because we missed Rodeo Bull,” he said.
Tragically, Rodeo Bull collapsed and died during Monday night’s protest after police said he got too unruly. Several witnesses said they saw him letting loose at Fassler Hall an hour before police cornered him.
“He had one too many. Who hasn’t done that?” local rodeo darling Bootstrap Pearl said. “It’s not like he drove home. He was walking, maybe running. … That’s the responsible thing to do.”
Rodeo Bull might be gone, but his legacy remains and his message rings true: You can take the streets out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the streets.