On a previous post, Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum, I shared that my nieces and nephews are related to William F Cody – aka, Buffalo Bill Cody. In May of 2019 my nephew Jesse was here visiting us in Colorado and wanted to take a little road trip to the North Platte in Nebraska. While there we had to visit North Platte’s Cody Park.
Sadly he was here in later March, so everything was pretty much closed during the off-season. Hopefully we will get to go back again sometime when they are running. However, during their season, Cody Park has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. This includes a wildlife sanctuary, picnic tables, restrooms, bandstand, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, baseball and softball fields, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, campgrounds, snack shop, and barbecue pits.
The one thing we were able to see was the animal enclosure. Apparently there are deer, elk, burros, sheep, peafowl, ducks, and geese throughout the park. We mostly saw burros, peacocks, and geese. Still cool to see them running around even in the cold weather.
Since my nephew is related to Buffalo Bill we had to take a picture of him in front of the encased statue of him. Near his statue is a memorial wall dedicated to him. It reads: This wall of fame was established in 1992 to give honor and special recognition to the North Platte Citizens who have made an outstanding contribution of their time, talent, or treasure to keep alive the memory and spirit of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and the first spectator Rodeo known as the “Old Glory Blowout of 1882”. Each year a new North Platte Citizen will be selected by the community selection committee as a worthy addition to the honorees. This plaque was given in memory of William F. Cody by his fellow members of Elks BPOE Lodge No. 985 and Does Drove 109 of North Platte, Nebraska. Dedicated June 17, 1993.
I thought that was really cool and of course had to take a picture of my nephew behind it, lol. But a highlight was still to come. Apparently North Platte’s Cody Park was actually the site of the Old Glory Blowout. Something I didn’t learn in school. 🙁 He didn’t know if either. He is the inscription on this plaque below
Let it be known by all the North Platte’s Cody Park was the site of the “Old Glory Blowout” July 4th, 1882. North Platte citizens, led by a committee of W.F. Cody, I. Dillon, Anth. Ries, L. Eells, M.C. Keith, JOS. Mackle, WM Grady, E.R. Griffis, H.N. Nichols, B.I. Hinman, T.J. Foley, C.L. Wood, J.H. McConnell, A.J. Miller, C.F. Groner, Chas. McDonald and P.C. Johnson organized the 1882 4th of July observance now known as the “Old Glory Blowout” The highlight of the celebration took place at the Isaac Dillon Racetrack. Located at the site of today’s Cody Park.
Activities included Bronc riding, steer roping, and horse racing. Cowboy’s competed for prized before a large and appreciative audience. This first “Spectator Rodeo”, earned Cody the title “Father of Rodeo”. Many of the events in the Old Glory Blowout are still an important part of the modern rodeo. The success of the “Old Glory Blowout” inspired Cody to organize a traveling western exhibition. New acts, including colorful Indians and a band added to the excitement for spectators. On May 10, 1883, a first full dress rehearsal was held at Columbus, Nebraska. On May 19th, 1883 the first public appearance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Exhibition took place at Omaha, Nebraska. In the next three decades the exhibition would appear before millions of spectators in all 48 states, Canada, and parks of Europe.
It was so cool to read and learn more about him and the early days of the rodeo. I always enjoy checking out the National Western Stock Show here in Denver every January. I will have a better appreciation of it next year. Needless to say, we had a good time walking around and taking pictures even though it was quite cold and windy. Here is a link to their website in case you want to plan your own trip one day. Hopefully Gene and I can go back sometime and enjoy a nicer day. Happy travels.
Cody Park Visitor Information
1601 N Jeffers St, North Platte, NE 69101
Memorial Day weekend through September
M-F | 8 am – 6 pm
Oct. 1 through Memorial Day
M-F | 8 am – 5 pm
Free – Depending on what you choose to do while in the park
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