Amazing Animal Actors stars
of show at 20th Bike Rodeo
by Lenny Roberts
Some suggest that learning bicycle safety at an early age can
set the stage for becoming better automobile drivers. More importantly,
awareness and adherence to safety rules can save children's lives.
The Ojai Police Department staged its 20th annual Bike Rodeo
Saturday at the Nordhoff High School parking lot, where 176 children
from 5 to 15 earned mostly high marks in the competition that
awarded trophies to first-, second- and third-place winners in
each of four age groups.
For experienced riders, the rodeo provided an opportunity to
brush up on vehicle code laws that affect everyone who uses public
roads, streets and highways.
Organizer and Sheriff's Deputy Kim Larson, who also oversees
activities at the valley's Police Activities League, ensured
a strong turnout by inviting members of the Sheriff's K-9 Unit,
Search and Rescue Team, Bomb and S.W.A.T. team, the California
Highway Patrol, a county fire engine with crew, and representatives
from the District Attorney's Victim Services, United States Forest
Service Ojai Ranger Station and paramedics from Ojai Lifeline
"The turnout was really wonderful, and everyone seemed very
excited," Larson said. "I was approached by numerous
parents who told me that this was the best bike rodeo ever."
Larson added that the children seemed to understand the importance
of the rodeo, especially wearing helmets.
"There was no excuse for not wearing them because each child
was given a Bell bicycle helmet just for attending. And in each
event, the kids really concentrated on what they were told to
do. If they understand the rules and laws at this age, when they
get older, it will be fixed in their minds how important they
The sleeper of the event may have been the first-ever rodeo appearance
of live exotic animals from Amazing Animal Actors, a Malibu-based
operation that trains and supplies wild animals for television
and film productions and nonprofit events.
Trainers John and Paul Ortbals and Claire Doré brought
two baby chimpanzees, a 3-week-old Bengal tiger and a 3-month-
old lion cub in an effort to acquaint children with touchable
wild animals. Young and old alike swarmed each animal as they
were brought out by handlers to be touched and petted.
Sponsors of the rodeo were Zee Medical, Bonnie Lu's, Ojai Café
Emporium, Rock Long Chevron, Oak View Shell, Bronk Vreeland Ojai
Ford, Bicycle World of Santa Paula, Answer Racing Products, Bell
Helmets, Safe Moves and the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
The first-, second- and third-place winners in each age group
at Saturday's Bike rodeo are as follows:
· Boys 5 to 7: Edaan Byle, Nicholas Connor, Travis Larson.
· Girls 5 to 7: Chelsey Cross, Maddie Whitman, Nyomi Byle.
· Boys 8 to 10: Christopher Tinky, Grant Whitman, David
· Girls 8 to 10: Jena Cook, Holly Johnson, Kiana Jenkins.
· Boys 11 to 12: Johnny Loest, Jason McCoy, Jacob McCoy.
· Girls 11 to 12: Katie Kube, Nici Cook, Rebecca Orosco.
· Boys 13 to 15: Blake Heath, Noah del Toro, Robert Barnett.
· Girls 13 to 15: Caitlin Praetorius.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news
|Paul Ortbals, top,
of Amazing Animal Actors, holds Jabari, a 3-month-old lion cub,
as local kids get up close and personal with Taja, a 3-week-old
Bengal tiger, at Ojai's annual Bike Rodeo.