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'The biggest honour of my life': Well-travelled cowboy named 2020 Stampede Parade Marshal
CALGARY -- After fulfilling his father's dream of a horseback journey from Calgary to South America, Filipe Masetti Leite is now on the verge of completing his ride of the Americas and the Calgary Stampede is ready to celebrate his accomplishments.
Masetti Leite, who is in the midst of a ride from Alaska to Calgary, has been named the honorary marshal of the 2020 Calgary Stampede Parade.
"The choice of Filipe Masetti Leite for the Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal has been many years in the making and was finalized long before our world changed this spring," said Dana Peers, president and chairman of the Stampede Board, in a statement released Wednesday. "He is proof Stampede Parade Marshals don’t just lead a parade; they exemplify western heritage, values and culture."
Masetti Leite's family immigrated to Canada from Brazil when he was a child. His father had long dreamed of making the trip back to his homeland on horse but was unable to attempt the feat due to commitments.
At the age of 25, Masetti Leite departed Stampede Park as part of the Calgary Stampede's centennial celebration in 2012. He arrived in Sao Paolo, Brazil nearly two years after his trip began and then continued on to Ushuaia, Argentina — the southernmost tip of South America.
In 2019, the cowboy flew his horses to Alaska and started his pilgrimage south to Calgary. Extreme weather and the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted his progress but he is scheduled to arrive in Calgary for what would have been the start of this year's Stampede.
The 2020 Calgary Stampede and Stampede Parade have been cancelled in response to pandemic and the ongoing health orders but Leite won't let the cancellation rain on his parade.
"I’m finishing where I started. It’s a dream," said Masetti Leite. "To be named the Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal is the biggest honour of my life. I can’t wait to ride into Calgary on July 3, even if no one is watching."
The cowboy is dedicating the final section of his horseback ride of the Americas to healthcare providers around the world.