BY BIRGITTA DEPAOLI
Sixteen years ago, my husband and I packed our bags and left Orange County in search of a mountain life of recreation and adventure in beautiful Truckee.
Powder skiing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, paddling, and taking a refreshing plunge off a Donner Lake pier, we were in heaven! And then … our baby girl was born, and she had other ideas.
Like many local parents, we signed her up for the after-school ski program and dreamed of the day she would leave us behind in the powder-dust. She took to the snow like most kids, but the passion for skiing that we hoped to instill just didn’t stick. Now, 13 years later, it has become all about horses. Yes, horses!
Have you ever witnessed a 3-year-old girl petting a horse for the first time? “Pony, Mommy. Pony!” That’s all it took. Ten years later, my husband and I would never have imagined that instead of buying skis and bikes, we would own a horse.
Why do I share the story of our daughter’s love of horses in Truckee of all places? Well, if you do not already know, there is a chance that McIver Arena (otherwise known as the Truckee Rodeo Grounds) could no longer exist.
This facility serves an important need for our often unknown and unseen community of local horse families and equestrians in Truckee and its surrounding region. The arena is a safe place for us to come together to ride and enjoy the activities that our children are passionate about. Just like the pump track, swimming pool, soccer fields, baseball fields, skateboard park, ice rink, and more, our athletic facilities serve the incredibly diverse passions of our mountain community; the McIver Arena is our place.
The Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District has proposed several concepts for Truckee’s master plan to accommodate the various interest groups within our community. However, one of the proposed concepts in the master plan options would make the historic riding arena obsolete and destroy our place in the community.
The same way you want a safe place for you and your children to enjoy swimming, hockey, biking, and skating, we want a safe place to come together and enjoy our horses.
We are not asking the TDRPD to build a new facility or even improve upon the existing facility, but simply to keep an existing facility for my family and other Truckee horse families to come together for years to come.
My daughter’s love for horses was born right here at our local McIver Arena and I would hate to see her place for recreation and enjoyment taken away.
You only have to spend a few minutes reading the recent fall/winter activities catalog to see how much the TDRPD offers. We are grateful for everything they do for our community. It is the responsibility of the TDRPD elected board to maintain this inclusive offering of incredible activities and facilities.
Additionally, McIver Arena doesn’t have to be just a place for horses and a rodeo. It can serve other event needs and provide a space for other activities. Just as we came together as a community to help the TDRPD raise money for the new community pool, we need to come together in support of this unique facility.
I urge you, if you have an idea of how we can share and restore this historic venue, please reach out to the TDRPD and tell them you want to see kids enjoying all their sports, including those that love their horses.
~ Birgitta Depaoli is a 16-year, full-time Truckee resident. Together, with her husband, JD Hoss, they own and operate two local businesses. Their 13-year-old daughter, Mechtild, is a lifelong horse lover and has used the McIver Arena since she started riding
Main Image Caption: SAVE THE ARENA: Birgitta Depaoli is on a mission to save the McIver Arena because her 13-year-old daughter Mechtild grew up learning about and loving horses there. She is pictured here with her rescued mustang, Lucky, in October 2019 for a Halloween horse play date hosted by the Truckee Donner horses. Courtesy photo