Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Stampede Parade

The Calgary Stampede is notorious. And famous, internationally so. We met people in England who knew Canada for three things: 1) the Rockies and the Rocky Mountaineer Train trip (which starts in Calgary 2) the 1988 Olympics which were held in, you guessed it, Calgary) and the famous Eddy the Eagle (Britain's first and only ski jumper) and 3) the Calgary Stampede (it even has its own Wikipedia page).

Personally, the closest I've ever gotten to the Calgary Stampede previously is last year, when myself and my fellow MEC coworkers watched bits of the parade during our morning staff meeting. I've never owned a cowboy hat or cowboy boots, and I doubt that I would buy either simply to wear for a ten day party.

BUT, growing up, the Ponoka Stampede parade was one of the great events that followed on the heels of school being over for the summer. So, when we were, for the first time since we moved to Calgary, able to go to the parade this year, I was very excited. Not to mention, it's another FREE summertime event in the city.

We left our house at twenty after six in the morning, drove to E&B's where we walked with them to the bus stop to catch the bus downtown. When we got down to 6th Ave at seven, there were many people already lining the streets in anticipation of the parade, which was still another two hours away.

Early morning sun on the Calgary Tower

A little cowboy, and the vendors on Stephen Avenue.

The calm before the storm, still at around seven thirty.

Everyone wears cowboy hats, even the Australian tourists.

Never fear, we can handle all early hours and masquerading cowboy crowds with the help of a grande extra hot latte.

The city workers set up camp in the back of their trucks in the intersection across the street from us.

There were something like 21 marching bands in the parade, not one but TWO from Denmark (yay team Denmark!!). This one was in the parade prelude, and came marching through at around eight thirty.

These guys were AWESOME. They are a group of Star Wars impersonators called the Badlands Regiment. We saw Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, and of course this Tuskan Warrior.

Crowds were growing.

We were across the street from the CPR office, and down from the Palliser Hotel.

The Stampede Marching Band

Many many people on horseback, including our wonderful mayor, Dave Bronconnier. There were also some horse riders who we wondered were just in the parade for the opportunity to ride in a parade in downtown Calgary. Heck, if I got the chance, I would take it.

Let me hear some of that sousaphone

Our Member of Parliament, Jim Prentice. We also saw our MLA and good old Ralph Klein (we cheered for him).

The Mounties

One of several pipe bands

The CNR float, which we have to say, was better than the CPR float

Hurray for the Danish Canadian Club!

We Support Our Troops:
their contingent included these marching soldiers, a marching band, one small tank and not one but two full size tanks, squeaking down the street. We cheered for them, and I choked up, thinking of Nathan.

It was a bit unsettling, watching the tanks roll through downtown Calgary and thinking about how different it would be to see tanks in the city in the Middle East or elsewhere.

A big old steam engine from Camrose,
no studded tires to make work for city workers though.

Decorated street cleaner cleaning up behind the horses; they went by several times.

Cute little horses

A little boy at the beginning of a random Christian float: we weren't sure who or what they represented.

Gives you a bit of a sense of how many people there were watching: when we arrived and set up our lawn chairs, we were the only ones. By the end, we had a row of people sitting on the curb in front of us and at least three layers of people behind us.

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