Pioneer Day teaches youth about Old West (Video)

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Sept. 22, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.
Updated Sept. 23, 2012 at 4:23 a.m.

Corynn Hinojosa, 7, of Corpus Christi, brushes animals during Pioneer Day  at the Texas Zoo in Victoria.

Corynn Hinojosa, 7, of Corpus Christi, brushes animals during Pioneer Day at the Texas Zoo in Victoria.

Corynn Hinojosa's knuckles brushed against the Shetland's mane as she rode it on the path.

"I want to be a cowgirl when I grow up," Corynn said.

The chocolate brown pony and 7-year-old were slowly pulled in a circle by Texas Zoo volunteer Bruce Blaha.

"This puts a smile on everybody's face," Blaha said.

On Saturday, the Texas Zoo debuted Pioneer Day, a new event dedicated to teaching kids about the old West.

Victoria native Julie Marquez brought her three grandchildren to participate in the many activities the day had to offer, including quilting, archery, square dancing, hide tanning and pony rides.

Sunlight and tree shadows danced over Nathaniel Hinojosa's floppy safari hat as he darted toward the monkeys.

"We try to come about once a year," Marquez said.

Calissa Hinojosa's hands stretched above her pink camouflage hat reaching for her grandmother's turquoise leather bag.

"My purse always turns into a carry-on," said Marquez as she handed the 4-year-old a drink.

John Michael Urbano, who works as an independent petroleum landman, also worked the pony station.

"This is great for the kids," Urbano said. "I'm just here to volunteer."

Of the three Hinojosa children, Nathaniel was the most rampant.

Every five minutes, the stir-crazy 6-year-old scurried over to the next exhibit on his own.

"I don't think he got enough sugar this morning," his grandfather said. "He'll start to get lonely after a while and come back."

At Cactus Charlie's Mild Wild West show, 5-year-old Kandace Koch clutched onto her ears.

"Let's go home now," whined Kandace to her father.

Charlie and Joyce Perron were in the middle of their set, which had most of the children squirming because of the loud gunfire in the act.

"We love doing this," said the female performer while brushing away a puddle of sweat from her brow. "I just wish I could take off this petticoat and blouse."

The Western costume-clad Robstown duo have been performing in Wild West shows for the past 15 years.

"We have about 100 orphaned animals on our lot back home," Perron said. "Everything we make goes to them, we do everything for the animals."

The zoo previously hosted an event called Powwow and Pioneer Day, but decided to split the two events this year.

"We felt like they needed their own separate days," said Texas Zoo executive director Amanda Rocha. "The goal today was to expose people to the culture of the American settler."



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