The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee has awarded its Chairman's Trophy to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail for its entry in the 88th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros on February 21.
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros bills itself at the world's largest non-motorized parade. The celebration is a cultural fixture in Tucson; local schools are closed for the event, and it is broadcast live on local television.
Anza Trail volunteers participated for the first time at this year's parade as William Islas, depicting Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza, led a color guard of Spanish colonial soldiers and settlers through the streets of Tucson.
The parade committee awarded the trophy to the Anza Trail volunteers for exemplifying the spirit and theme of Western heritage. This year's other trophy winners were the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center and the League of Mexican-American Women.
The Anza Trail commemorates the 1775-76 colonizing expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza, who led nearly 300 men, women, and children more than 1600 miles to establish a European settlement at San Francisco Bay. The expedition comprised families of Native American, European, and African heritage, presaging the rich diversity of the modern American West.
William Islas traces his family lineage to a member of the Anza expedition; he and a corps of historic re-enactors provide Anza Trail interpretation throughout Arizona and California.