February 28th, 2024

Stampede parade rolls through town

By COLLIN GALLANT on July 28, 2023.

Large crowds gathered along First Street during Thursday's Medicine Hat Stampede parade. - News Photo Collin Gallant

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Everybody loves a parade, but Andrea Hamilton has a list of people who love them enough to pitch in and help make one happen.

The annual Medicine Hat Stampede Parade kicked off at the usual time on Thursday morning, several months after the public was warned that without more volunteers and entries the event wouldn’t proceed.

As it wound up, bagpipers droned, fire engines roared, horses trotted, bands played, and Hatters lined the route up and down the sidewalks of downtown.

“The success of the parade is really the result of participation of the community,” said Hamilton afterward.

The new parade committee director first got involved in the parade committee in 2018 by helping to build the Stampede’s own Kiddies Day float.

After two years helping out, followed by two years cancelled in the pandemic, she volunteered this spring to lead the effort to get it back established.

That after the restart last year when the parade was under the direction of Darlene Keelor. The every-woman among committees of the entirely volunteer-run Stampede organizing committee for years and now-board president.

“Considering we weren’t even going to have one this year, it came off fantastic,” said Keelor at the Stampede’s President’s luncheon.

“We had 102 entries and 27 dignitaries… everyone has really gone above and beyond.”

Keelor said that extends beyond the parade committee to 600 volunteers who run all facets of activity at the grounds.

Hamilton said getting involved comes with rewards.

“Essentially it’s a brand new committee, but it’s been a great hand-off from the previous group,” said Hamilton. “And we do need more volunteers, especially younger people. It is a really great way to build your leadership skills.”

Both women said members of the parade committee are to thank for the event.

“We all got ‘volun-told,'” joked Cathy Sutter, who says she couldn’t say no to Keelor, a longtime friend, and wound up liaison with the many dignitaries in the procession.

She wound up as bossing around Premier Danielle Smith, the mayors of Medicine Hat and Redcliff, the reeve of Cypress County, MP Glen Motz plus a few Canadian and British army commanders.

This year saw the return of the Raymond High School Samba Band, several local ethnic community organizations and a wide array of businesses entering floats. The Medicine Hat Concert Band also performed.

Sutter said a large number of visiting rodeo queens and princesses added to the number of horses in the show.

Honourary parade marshal Sage Watson and Keelor rose in the carriage to begin the event that ended with ambulances rather than the traditional modern day fire trucks.

It lasted about 90 minutes, snaking up and down First, Second and Third Streets and concluding at River Road near the Medicine Hat Public Library.

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