‘Our cultural fabric’: Calgary Stampede gets ready to kick off Friday with parade

'Our cultural fabric': Calgary Stampede gets ready to kick off Friday with parade
After a few years of pandemic-related uncertainty organizers with the Calgary Stampede are happy to be returning to simply encouraging those attending the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth to wear cowboy hats and staying hydrated. Stampede princesses ride past the Saddledome during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alta., Friday, July 9, 2021.

After a few years of uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials with the Calgary Stampede say they’re happy the advice they’ll be handing out this year is to simply wear a cowboy hat and stay hydrated.

“It’s certainly a nice change to feel like we’re getting back to a little bit normal here and having a full-on Stampede this year. We’re really excited about that,” Kerrie Blizard, the event’s director of public safety, said at a news conference Tuesday.

The 10-day celebration of cowboy life, called the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, kicks off with a downtown parade Friday morning.

The Stampede was cancelled for the first time in its history in 2020.

It returned the following year with a scaled-down version that included rapid COVID-19 tests being required to enter some tents, a limit on how many people could be at Stampede Park and physical distancing guidelines.

Last year, many who attended wore masks.

“The spirit of the Calgary Stampede is part of our cultural fabric,” said Sue Henry, chief of emergency operations and 911 for the City of Calgary.

“We want residents and visitors to safely enjoy all that Stampede has to offer.”

Security at the Stampede is to remain paramount, with Calgary Transit running trains 24 hours a day and the hiring of additional security guards.

Calgary police are also setting up a temporary ninth district police station on the Stampede grounds with its own commander, radio channels and patrol officers.

“Large events can be challenging for police. Our service is very used to planning for the Stampede and every year we make sure we’ve got the right resources in place,” said Supt. Joe Brar.

“We will have a highly visible police presence both along the parade route and at Stampede Park. We bring in officers from across the city who work very closely with all of our partners … to ensure we can handle any situation that arises.”

The Stampede runs until July 16.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2023.

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