Tribune/Nathan Orme - Reno Rodeo parade marshal Randy Bell waits for the start of Saturday's parade in the shadow of the Eldorado and Circus Circus hotels.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Best Dressed Junior Cowgirls Autumn Goddard (left) and Kaili Hill wave to the crowd at Saturday's Reno Rodeo parade.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - A line of horse-drawn wagons passes underneath the world-famous Reno sign on Saturday morning.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Artist Wes Lee draws a portrait of John Wayne at the Chalk the Walk event Saturday morning. The three-day event is held in conjunction with the annual Reno Rodeo.
RENO - Thousands turned out for the annual Reno Rodeo Parade in downtown early Saturday as a small group of animal rights activists staged a protest of the annual event.
More than 700 top professional cowboys and cowgirls are competing for more than $550,000 in prize money.
Meanwhile, seven protesters carried signs during the demonstration across the street from the fairgrounds where the nine-day rodeo began Friday night.
Organizer Renee Cariglia of Citizens for Animal Rights said her group seeks an end to rodeos.
"They perpetuate animal cruelty," she said. "They can call it entertainment, but the bottom line is the animals aren't treated humanely."
Rodeo officials have repeatedly maintained that they go out of their way to ensure the animals receive humane treatment.
The same group protested a Reno circus earlier this year and a Carson City pet store that sells puppies last year.