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Arnold Williams introduces his son Gray to Pete the Mule during a 1997 trip to Muleshoe.

Pete the Mule is a much admired and well-traveled fellow, having attended the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001. However, it is seldom that a mule is memorialized in song, as Pete will be at the July 4th Celebration held on July 3 in Muleshoe.

“It doesn’t happen every day,” said Andrea Alfaro, Muleshoe Chamber of Commerce manager.

“It’s super cool,” said Carina Reyes, Muleshoe Director of Economic Development.

The fiberglass statue of Pete the Mule by sculptor Kevin Wolf was erected and dedicated in 1965 at a ceremony attended by 10,000 people at the National Mule Memorial. People have come since to gaze at the symbol of hard work and dedication that Pete represents.

In one case, Pete inspired a deeper feeling.

Arnold Williams, a retired electronics worker, got his first glimpse of Pete when he was with the Air Force stationed at Clovis during the 60s.

While Williams and his wife Sonya were driving to Lubbock, they stopped at the National Mule Monument to stretch their legs and exercise their dog.

“It was a beautiful statue,” Williams said. “Whoever sculpted it did an incredible job. We fell in love with Pete.”

That was in 1967. Two years later, the Williamses moved to North Carolina. But whenever the family was in the area, they continued to visit Pete. Afterwards, they would eat in a Muleshoe restaurant and talk about Pete with Muleshoe folks.

In 1997 on a trip to Albuquerque, Williams made a point of driving the extra distance to Muleshoe to introduce Pete to his son Gray.

After Sonya died in 2008, Williams continued to visit Pete, talk to him and catch him up on family matters. In 2016, he began posting photos on Facebook, telling his friends humorous stories about the mule.

“He is doing fine,” Williams announces in one post. “He likes the apples I have been sending since March (sweet feed upset his stomach) but he prefers the green ones. I called the supplier and changed his weekly delivery of a pack to all green.”

Recently, Williams decided it would be fitting for Pete to have a song written about him. He searched for a songwriter and spoke to three before finding Janis Diane.

“When Arnold Williams told me the story of how important Pete the Mule was to his family, and that he would like the story told in song, it really touched me,” the songwriter said. “He sent me all the history he had about Pete, and I read it, but I felt that I couldn’t do justice to the song until I had seen Pete in person.”

Janis Diane traveled to Muleshoe last summer.

“The area, the history of Pete and mules in general and Arnold’s story really all pointed to a folk song,” she said. “I wrote the lyrics while staying in Lubbock, and the melody followed.

“Arnold wanted the song to be about his family, but equally about the importance of mules in building the U. S. I learned so much about mules while writing this song! Amazing animals!”

“Arnold Williams contacted the city,” Alfaro said. “He said that there was a song and asked what would he need to do to get it performed here. He got with Carina and (city manager) Ramon Sanchez, and it’s going to happen.”

On Monday, June 13, Mayor Colt Ellis signed a proclamation declaring “Pete the Mule” as the official theme song of The National Mule Memorial.

At noon on Saturday, July 3, exactly 56 years after Pete the Mule was first dedicated, “Pete the Mule,” the song in his honor, will premiere at the courthouse square during the Day of Honor celebration.

Williams will attend to talk about his history with Pete, and how “Pete The Mule” came about.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Reyes said. “This will be first time anyone hears it being performed.”

“Sonya and I are country people,” Williams said. “Whoever did the monument did a good job of writing up how he was such a useful animal. The strong image of the mule stood out to us. The write-up coupled with beautiful statue got us on his side.

“I travel a lot and talk to various people. I’m amazed that a lot don’t even know about poor ol’ Pete. He just got in our hearts.”

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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