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NBPD Mounted Unit volunteer in 2024 Tournament of Roses Parade®

On January 1, Newport Beach Police Department volunteer, Lori Hayden, along with other members of the NBPD Mounted Enforcement Unit (MEU) took part in this year’s 135th Tournament of Roses Parade®. The NBPD MEU is part of the Orange County Regional Mounted Equestrian Unit (OCRMEU), so horses and officers from the OC Sheriff’s Department, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Buena Park police departments participated in the parade as well. Hayden shared a little about her experience being a part of this world-renowned event in the interview below.

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Photos courtesy of NBPD

Lori Hayden, volunteer member of the NBPD Mounted Unit for almost 10 years and her partner, Buckie

Q: Does the OCRMEU usually participate in the Rose Parade®?

A: This is the first time the OCRMEU has participated in the Rose Parade. It is also our 20-year anniversary so that was super special. We were also representing the Western States Mounted Officers Association (WSMOA). This organization provides the training we all participate in yearly with our horses. It is through this organization that our horses receive their badges and become our official partners on the police force. In addition to trainings, WSMOA also provides our Memorial Event once a year to honor fallen mounted officers and fallen mounts.

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Lori Hayden (in light blue) and other members of the OCRMEU at Equifest – one of the events taking place prior to the Rose Parade®

Q: Was your role in the parade unique or special in any way?

A: I was honored to be the only volunteer in the parade. Newport Beach PD is the only station that has a volunteer as part of the MEU. I also sit on the Board for the WSMOA, along with Anaheim PD Sgt. Anderson.

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Lori Hayden and Buckie were up before the sun to get ready for the big day!

Q: What did the preparation look like to get ready for the Rose Parade®?

A: The team began months ago preparing our horses for the extra stimulation that a parade involves. We participated in the Balboa Island Parade and the Anaheim Harvestfest parade. We train monthly for crowds and sensory stimulation, but we were aware the Rose Parade was going to be another level. We also spent countless hours on fine tuning our tack and horses for the event. Special shoes were required for the horses as well as veterinarian requirements that had to be met. We arrived at the L.A. Equestrian Center six days prior to the Parade to participate in the L.A.  Equifest. This event showcased the use of horses for police work along with patrol cars and the use of a canine unit. Months of practice went into this demonstration as well.

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Lori Hayden (in light blue) and other members of the OCRMEU head to the parade route

Q: What was the day of the parade like for your team?

A: The team arrived together the day before to spend the night under the 210 freeway. We slept in our trailers with the horses next to us. Early in the morning, we tacked up, dressed in Class A uniforms and headed out as a team two hours before the parade began. We were staged near the start of the parade for an hour or so. Once it was our turn to join the line-up, we turned the corner onto Colorado Boulevard to witness the media and grandstands. It was an intense experience!

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Members of NBPD Mounted Enforcement Unit in front of the Honda float (Lori Hayden is pictured in the center)

Q: Did you have any highlights from being a part of the Parade?

A: The initial turn onto Colorado Boulevard was unbelievable. I was so proud of the horses and their calm demeanor. It takes a significant amount of training and trust to participate in such an overwhelming environment. Horses are prey animals by nature. These horses are so special. They love their jobs and trust their mounted partners. It was humbling and overwhelming.

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The OCRMEU in the Rose Parade®. Lori Hayden is the only Mounted Unit member in light blue if you can spot her!

Q: Is there anything else you want to share about your experience at the Rose Parade?

A: I was so honored to represent NBPD, OCRMEU and WSMOA in the L.A. Equifest and Rose Parade. These three organizations are very close to my heart and sharing this experience with my horse Buckie and my police partners was a once in a lifetime experience! I was overwhelmed by the horses and their trust in us on such a big stage. As a volunteer, I get to support and give back in such a unique way. When I signed up to give in this capacity, I never expected to receive such a gift as this team!

Thank you, Lori, for giving us a glimpse into your time preparing for and riding in this incredibly special event! What a great representation of the Newport Beach Police Department, the Mounted Unit and the City of Newport Beach!

To learn more about NBPD’s Mounted Enforcement Unit, check out their page on NBPD’s website here.

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