ABOVE: Check out highlights from the 2014 Calgary Stampede parade.
CALGARY- It’s a Calgary tradition dating back to 1912. On Friday morning, the Stampede Parade kicks off the 2014 Calgary Stampede in true western style. Here’s what you need to know, to make the most of your parade experience.
This year’s Stampede Parade begins July 4 at 9 a.m., but if you want to have a good view of the action, you’ll need to wake up much earlier. The City of Calgary recommends arriving before 7 a.m. to beat the rush. Performers roaming the streets from 7:30 a.m. onward will keep everyone entertained until the parade starts.
The parade winds along 6 Avenue and 9 Avenue downtown. This year, there will be viewing areas set up on 6 Avenue at 1, 2, 6, and 9 Streets, as well as on 9 Avenue at Centre, 2, 6, and 9 Streets. They’ll be reserved for mobility-challenged people until 8 a.m., then open to the public. Be sure to bring your own chairs if you need to sit. Paid bleacher seating is also available along the route.
This year’s parade marshal is actor William Shatner. He’ll be joined by Olympians Gilmore Junio and Denny Morrison as honorary marshals. About 700 horses and 4,000 people will make up the parade’s 130 entries, and the Stampede Parade committee expects about 250,000 spectators will come.
Friday is forecast to be warm and sunny. Make sure to put on sunscreen, bring water, and don’t forget your cowboy hat! You may also want to have rain gear just in case. Be considerate of fellow spectators and bring a raincoat rather than an umbrella, which can block the view for people behind you.
The downtown core will be busy and parking will be limited, so it’s best to arrive early or take the train. From 7:30 a.m. to noon, 6 Avenue from 6 to 10 Street, 9 Avenue from 8 to 11 Street, and 10 Street from 6 to 9 Avenue will be closed for the parade.
- The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
- William Shatner is in good company. Past Parade Marshals have included Rita McNeil, Lanny McDonald and Walt Disney.
- The Stampede Parade is organized by a committee of more than 130 volunteers, who will spend about 28,000 hours working to make this year’s parade a success.