August 3, 2014 9:36 pm

Celebration of Light, Pride Parade go off without a hitch

More than a million people crowded into Vancouver’s downtown core in the last 24 hours to watch Japan wow crowds at the Honda Celebration of Light finale, and for the Pride Parade.

An estimated 400,000 people watched the fireworks display Saturday night, and over 600,000 attended Sunday’s parade.

For the most part, festivities went off without a hitch. That wasn’t always the case, so it begs the question: is Vancouver learning how to party responsibly?

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Police say the vast majority of attendees at the fireworks behaved themselves.

“The number of arrests were down, the number of liquor seizures were down, it was a great evening last night,” says Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu.

But many fireworks celebrations  of the past have been plagued by violence, with stabbings, assaults even pepper spray and attacks on police

“When it first started and changed into different themes, we had lots of problems,” says Chu. “We’d see groups of tough guys, going around, looking for trouble. The fireworks used to be called ‘Festival of Fights.'”

Officials believe the trail of extreme violence at public events can be traced to the 1994 stanley cup riots.

In following years it became so dangerous, that on New Year’s Eve 1999, police urged people to stay out of the downtown core “unless they had a party to attend.”

Police say things have completely changed, and nowhere it that more evident than at today’s Pride Parade, an event that seldom has had any problems with public behavior.

- with files from Julia Foy

 

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