Hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets of downtown Calgary on Friday to watch the 2016 Stampede parade.
The annual event is a long-running tradition which serves as the official kickoff for the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Each year, the parade showcases more than 150 western-themed entries, including 30 marching bands, 40 floats, 4,000 people and 750 horses.
The Calgary Stampede calls the parade “a march through tradition, history and local Calgary culture.”
Weather for the 2016 parade was ideal for watchers, with the temperature hovering around 20 C and a mix of sun and cloud.
This year, the parade included a special entry to recognize the efforts of those who supported the Fort McMurray wildfire response.
The group, which included first responders and firefighters as well as Wood Buffalo Fire Chief Darby Allen, received a standing ovation and thunderous cheers as they marched down the street.
“This is unbelievable, I just can’t get over it,” Allen said.
“It’s making me cry a little bit, it’s wonderful.”
“Everyone is having such a great day – just to see so many people, it’s a little overwhelming,” Allen added.
WATCH: Leslie Horton speaks with Darby Allen, Fire Chief of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, during the 2016 Calgary Stampede Parade
The parade also featured Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Calgary councillors, several MLAs, members of the Calgary Flames and members of the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League.
Singers Paul Brandt and Jann Arden were co-parade marshals, while retired Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish served as a celebrity judge. As a celebrity judge, Cornish had the honour of choosing the entry that, in his opinion, best exemplified the spirit of the Calgary Stampede.
Cornish chose the Parks Canada entry, which received the 2016 Celebrities’ Choice Award.
Officials estimate some 250,000 people attend the parade every year.
The 2016 Calgary Stampede runs from July 8 to 17.