Generosity from North Valley residents helped send Merced County posse to inauguration

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Show time is quickly approaching for the Merced County Sheriff's Posse. The 14 member team had one last practice to go over their parade formation. (KFSN)

Show time is quickly approaching for the Merced County Sheriff's Posse. The 14 member team had one last practice to go over their parade formation.

Sheriff Vern Warnke hoped to raise $24,000 to cover transportation costs for the horses. But the community reached the posse's goal of $80,000 to cover the entire trip to Washington D.C.

"We're very excited. We're very honored. We're very proud of the fact we're able to showcase Merced County. It may sound kind of gushy here but I love this county," said Warnke.

Hundreds of donors, big and small, came through for a group which wanted to participate no matter which candidate would be taking the presidential oath.

"We decided to apply for this thing before the election, and that was one of our caveats because the Sheriff's Posse is non-political," said Warnke.

The Sheriff's Posse also took part in President George W. Bush's inauguration parade in 2005.

"I went 12 years ago and I froze my butt off," said Leroy Vierra, Sheriff's Posse.

But Vierra warmed to the idea of getting a second chance to see a US president.

"How many people get to do that, you know what I mean? Actually see him there."

Vierra sister Laurette Locke will also ride in the parade. She's proud to represent Central California.

"That's my big deal. I'm hoping when we ride by everybody goes, 'that's our posse!'"

The horses will ship out from Hilmar on Sunday while the posse will fly out on Tuesday.

In addition to accepting donations, the Merced County Sheriff's Posse also sold tickets to raffle off American flags which they will carry during the inauguration parade.

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