Friday, July 4th was a holiday…but not the one I’m used to! While my home country was celebrating its Independence, its northern neighbor, specifically the province of Alberta, was celebrating the kick-off to the Calgary Stampede (or as Calgarians call it…”The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”) with Parade Day. A friend and I grabbed some coffee, and then headed over to the corner of 1 St SE and 6th Ave SW to stake out a really awesome spot for the 2.5 hour parade.
The parade was touted as, “A dynamic ribbon of pageantry featuring beautiful floats, bands, riders, celebrities and cultural entries.” I was, however, warned from a fellow co-worker who migrated from New Orleans that this parade is in NO WAY similar to the Mardi Gras Parades I was no doubt accustomed to after four years in Louisiana – aka, there would be no beads, throws, candy, nudity, or general unruliness. <– That last one made me smile. But all joking aside, it was a nice parade. Definitely a bit more….quiet….and orderly…than I am used to. There were marching bands scattered throughout, but most floats did not blare music. And all the participants were very cognizant of the group in front of them, and maintained a decent distance. There were also sets of Street Cleaners that came through about every 25 entries or so, to clean up after the horses. But the whole experience is definitely a fun family atmosphere, and I am glad that I was able to participate. It was pretty neat to see every neighborhood or district represented, with either a float or a group riding horses. And there were multiple First Nations (referred to as Indians in the US) who were also represented. I also got to see the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the Canadian military (Army, Navy, and Air Force), and the local police and fire department. It was also neat to see the floats from some of local hot-spots, such as Canada Pacific Railway, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park, and the Calgary Tower. And last, but not least, two fun entrants which everyone loved…a little girl who was performing acrobatics on the back of a horse, and a man riding a bull.
And for those of you wondering…Canadian legend, iconic actor, active philanthropist, and passionate horseman William Shatner led the Parade as Grand Marshal. Although he only seemed to wave to one side of the street for as far as I could see….it was still pretty cool to see him pass.