Mother-daughter duo, former Chiefs cheerleaders, to perform at Arrowhead halftime

In 1967, Cindy Rose stood on the sidelines in her mustard yellow wool sweater and skirt. With a sea of red and gold fans packed in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the very first Super Bowl, Rose could feel her excitement building.

The crowd cheered wildly as she launched into her routine. The energy in the stadium that day was so high she thought it could bubble over.

“I loved it,” she said. “Being in front of the crowd, doing all these kinds of jumps when there would be a touchdown – the fans.”

Kendra Manley, 51, and her mother Cindy Rose, 73, smile for a photo on their way to a halftime practice.
Kendra Manley, 51, and her mother Cindy Rose, 73, smile for a photo on their way to a halftime practice.

As a senior in high school, Rose cheered for Len Dawson, Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan. The team fought hard against the Packers that day but came up short – scoring 10 points to Green Bay’s 35. Dawson’s team would claim its first Super Bowl victory just a few years later.

Rose stands on the sidelines at the very first Super Bowl in an image captured by television cameras.
Rose stands on the sidelines at the very first Super Bowl in an image captured by television cameras.

The Sunday routine is meant to commemorate 60 seasons of the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders and involves more than 300 alumni, according to Chiefs public relations director Luke Shanno.

Participants from every decade since the ‘60s will dance to music from their heyday, all while wearing jerseys with their rookie year on the back. After a series of smaller practices, a grand rehearsal was held Saturday in preparation for the big day.

Manley, also a former cheerleader, will dance with her mother this weekend. Manley signed both of them up for the performance.

Kendra Manley poses for a photo during the 1996-1997 Chiefs season.
Kendra Manley poses for a photo during the 1996-1997 Chiefs season.

In an interview with The Star Saturday, Rose joked that the pregame nerves she never had before were catching up to her. Rose said she didn’t realize how involved the choreography would be.

“It’s not that I can’t really do the dance moves, it’s remembering the steps,” Rose said, laughing. “If you skip one beat, you’re lost. Forget it.”

Back in 1967, Rose said she kept busy cheering for both her high school football team and the Chiefs. She and a friend decided to try out one day, and to their delight, they both made it.

From there, it was steak dinners on airplanes and hanging out with the team. She admitted she didn’t know many of the players very well but said Dawson reminds her of today’s quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.

“Len Dawson was the nicest man you’ll ever meet,” she said. “Just real true to life, not too cocky.”

Rose said she was ecstatic when she first heard her daughter would follow in her footsteps. She never stopped being a Chiefs fan after her one year of cheer. Rose and her husband went to almost every game to see their daughter perform, sitting in “the good seats.”

The 1996-1997 Chiefs cheerleaders pose, Manley in the second row, second from the right.
The 1996-1997 Chiefs cheerleaders pose, Manley in the second row, second from the right.

During the 1996-1997 season, Manley performed in sequined halter tops and bright white shoes. After dancing her whole life, Manley said getting to cheer for the Chiefs was a dream come true.

“It was the most exciting, thrilling experience – hearing the fans and being on the field when the players ran out,” Manley said. “That moment in itself, it would make the hair stand up on your arms.”

After crossing cheering for the Chiefs off her bucket list, Manley said she’s looking forward to completing one more – cheering alongside her mother.

“I said, ‘Mom … you’ll never get this opportunity again, and we’ll get to do it together,’” Manley said. “‘We just have to.’”

Anticipating taking the field by storm once again, both mother and daughter said they were thankful for their time cheering for the Chiefs. It was an unbelievably memorable experience, one Manley said continues to bless her today.

“Being in that organization, I had a lot of mentors,” Manley said. “I still thank those women for all their guidance because it wasn’t just about cheering. It was about helping others, helping the community, giving back.”