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Land run wagon train rolls across Oklahoma

TECUMSEH, Okla. (AP) _ With the wind whipping into small cyclones of red dirt, dozens of cowfolks, kids and wagons piled into Tecumseh Friday in anticipation of the 28th annual Land Run Ride.

And though a burn ban prohibited massive old-fashioned bonfires at the campsite, Lindel Souders said participating city slickers, cowboys and cowgirls will do what they do best throughout this historical journey _ ride, talk and teach the young ones about traditions past.

At least 75 people registered to participate on the 100-mile, seven-day route, which changes year to year, winding through central Oklahoma and ending in Norman in time to participate in the Saturday, April 22, '89er Day Parade on Main Street.

Kenneth Duggan, longtime wagon train participant, said part of the magic of the trail is to bring history alive and show his children and grandchildren another way of life.

``There's no age limit on this,'' said Duggan, whose 2-week-old granddaughter and her mother will join him on the one-week journey. ``It's like a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Some people will only see this type of thing on TV and here you can see it in real life. It's just such a tradition and I hope that they can pass this on, keep it going.''

And while he's visited sites around the United States while driving a big rig, ``nothing compares to seeing things when you're hitched up to a horse and buggy,'' Duggan said.

Slow going and tedious as the journey may be, it's still a source of pleasure and reminder of days past, said J. Marsh, of Tecumseh.

``I just love to ride,'' he said. ``And it's fun to do this for the kids and to watch them watch us.''

Souders said this year riders will make overnight camp in Tribbey, Wanette, Rosedale, Maysville, Purcell, Slaughterville and at last, Norman. At each of the planned stops, Souders said he invites the public to come and visit.

``We love to show off our wagons and let people in to see the horses,'' he said. ``It's fun to watch the kids' eyes open and ask questions. We really enjoy doing that.''

Besides their daily rides, which at times can stretch more than 18 miles and through varying terrain, trail riders also will take time to stop and visit friends, old and new, along the way, Souders said.

``We're going to go by a couple of schools and nursing homes,'' he said. ``That's what it's really all about ... If you think about it, a lot of those folks in the nursing homes may be old enough to remember actually riding horses themselves or growing up in a time of horse and buggy.''
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