By Yvonne Bringuel, special to the Star-Bulletin
Moses Medeiros, grand marshal of the 4th of July Makawao
Rodeo Parade on Saturday, is ready to ride in
this photo taken in 1994 at Maliko Bay.

Medeiros to lead
Makawao Rodeo Parade

He has had two heart attacks
in the last decade, but he's still riding
after 50 years

By Gary T. Kubota

MAKAWAO, Maui -- He has cracked ribs and injured a shoulder from horses falling on him in more than half a century of ranching on the rocky slopes of Haleakala. He has also survived two heart attacks in the last 10 years.

But Moses Medeiros, 74, isn't about to give up competing in rodeos, although he now leaves the ranching to his nephews.

"I love horses. It feel real good when I have a horse that has power. It gives me a real high," Medeiros said.

On Saturday, Medeiros will be the grand marshal of the 32nd annual 4th of July Makawao Rodeo Parade. He'll also compete in roping at the 42nd Annual Makawao Rodeo at Oskie Rice Arena in Olinda.

The parade, with hundreds of horse riders along with floats and entertainment, begins at 9 a.m. at the Veteran's Cemetery, goes up Baldwin Avenue and ends at Eddie Tam Gym on Makawao Avenue.

Shuttles will pick up passengers at two main parking areas -- Oskie Rice Arena and Eddie Tam Gym.

The parade participants include Rodeo Queen Brandy Prito and her court, the trick riding of Nacho Villagrana of the Maui Horse Resort and a display from the Maui Military Museum.

Casanova Italian Restaurant & Deli has agreed to turn its restaurant into the old Club Rodeo, offering prime rib dinners in addition to its regular menu. Cowboys are asked to keep their horses outside.

A wooden stick horse race, to benefit the Makawao Community Association's Youth Athletic Fund, precedes the parade. The entry fee is $100, and applications along with stick horses may be obtained at Hawaii Hearth & Leisure on Baldwin Ave.

The stick horse race is the brainchild of sisters Theresa Tavares and Charlene Thompson, whose late father, Charlie founded Thompson Ranch in Kula in the early 1900s and produced 28 children.

He outlived his first three wives. His fourth wife buried him at age 90.

"He was a trick rider and acrobat before he settled down on Maui," said Theresa Thompson, who started riding a horse at age 5.

"The parade is a family tradition."

Medeiros remembers helping to build Oskie Rice Arena in the pastures of Olinda, where the rodeo is held annually.

His hands, fingers as thick as rolls of quarters, tell a story of hard labor beginning at age 14 when his family ranch was founded by his late father, Joseph S. Medeiros.

Their ranch grew to 80 head of cattle on 230 acres in Kula.

Medeiros, who later worked as a lineman for GTE Hawaiian Tel, said there were many small Portuguese ranchers in the early 1900s.

Every Sunday during the summer, they gathered on horseback at one of the ranches to help a small rancher with cattle branding.

"We did it in the old way," he said.

Medeiros said to fatten the herd, the ranchers would stop giving water to the cattle and let them feed on red cactus.

Along Kula Highway, more cars than cattle are visible now.

Nearly every Sunday, Medeiros drives his pickup to Kaupakalua to practice roping and horse riding at a roping club.

He had a second heart attack five years ago but has recovered, although he now has a tube as an artery.

"It works good. I fell down from my horse the other day. Nothing happened," Medeiros said.

Medeiros said when he rides in the parade he will think of the long ride he's had in life and the tough life of his father, who worked to establish a ranch, despite having lost both of his parents by age 11.

"Those days, many people died. I was blessed," Medeiros said.

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