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Safe Rides; Red Bluff Round-Up has its Own Version of Uber

Red Bluff volunteers provide free taxi service for Round-Up cowboys, cowgirls

Clay and Lilly Parker pose in front of one of the passenger vans used to transport people to and from the Tehama Distr. Fairgrounds during the Round-Up. Project Safe Ride, as it is called, was begun nine years ago. Photo by Ruth Nicolaus.

Red Bluff, Calif. (April 13, 2017) – The Red Bluff Round-Up has its own version of Uber.

Anyone who needs a ride from the Tehama Dist. Fairgrounds to a destination in Red Bluff, or vice versa, can get one through Project Safe Ride.

Project Safe Ride, a free transportation service designed for Round-Up contestants, was begun in 2009 by then Tehama Co. Sheriff Clay Parker. Parker, who also served as mayor of Red Bluff in 2015-2016 and is now a council member, began the service at the request of the Round-Up directors, to combat the perception among contestants that Red Bluff wasn’t a friendly or fun place to be.

Parker and his wife began the taxi service, which, in the last eight years, has expanded to three ten-passenger vans that run transportation from Friday of the Round-Up (this year, on April 21) at 1 pm, through Sunday morning, at 3 or 4 am. Three sets of drivers (each van has two drivers) works the service. Since it began, Project Safe Ride has given over 4,000 rides.

Most of those rides go to cowboys and cowgirls, headed downtown to the bars or restaurants, and Parker says they are overwhelmingly polite. “You will not meet nicer, more respectful people than the cowboys and their families,” he said. “It’s always, yes sir, and yes, ma’am. They’re good people.” The only dispute Parker might have with the contestants is they try to pay, when the service is free.

The other service offered by Project Safe Ride is vehicle transport. If passengers are picked up who aren’t able to drive their vehicles back to the fairgrounds, Parker’s drivers get their vehicles back to the grounds.

This year, Parker has six drivers scheduled: he and his wife Lilly, his sister and her husband, Sherrie and Roger Weigel, and Rich Ryan and his daughter Emily. Their time is donated; the Round-Up picks up the cost of the passenger vans. The program is sponsored by the California Highway Patrol.

They are busiest when the bars close on Friday and Saturday nights, with calls dropping off by four or five a.m., when they go to bed. The Parkers are up for the parade on Saturday morning, then on duty till Sunday morning. They attend the final performance of the Round-Up on Sunday.

Parker is quick to give credit to the Round-Up Board. It was their idea to provide the service, and he works with Director Rod Moore each year. He and his crew enjoy what they do. “When you work with these great people, that’s why we do it.”

The Red Bluff Round-Up runs April 21-23 at the Tehama Distr. Fairgrounds in Red Bluff. It begins at 7 pm on April 21, 2:30 pm on April 22, and 1:30 pm on April 23. Tickets are available online at RedBluffRoundup.com, at the gate, and through the Round-Up office at 530.527.1000. They range in price from $14 to $30. For more information, visit the website or call the office.