Canada 2013: Calgary Stampede Parade
Part Six: The Calgary Stampede, an annual Alberta festival, claims to be “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. So on the morning of Friday the 5th of July we were up at 4am to jump aboard the CTrain and get to Calgary in time to find a good vantage point for the Stampede Parade. After fuelling up on some Tim Horton’s donuts and French Vanilla lattes, we were ready for the parade; a colourful kick-off to the nine day event featuring a smorgasbord of participants. There were horses, marching bands, army tanks, horses, beauty queens, cowboys, horses, bagpipers, country singers, cheerleaders and did I mention the horses?
However, the person I was most interested in seeing was this year’s Parade Marshal; Commander Chris Hadfield, first Canadian to walk in space. I mean think about it, just over a month ago Hadfield had been aboard the International Space Station in charge of a scientific team. From there he chronicled daily life in space through brilliant use of social media including regular tweets and a music video he recorded aboard the ISS paying tribute to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.
Now, here he is on horseback in a cowboy hat and jeans leading a parade through the streets of Calgary. You have to admit, that’s pretty badass!
After the Parade we did a little exploring including all five levels of the “The Bay” (Hudson’s Bay Company). Founded in 1670, HBC is North America’s longest continually operated company. The train ride home was quite eventful. An oil spill on the tracks caused all rails to temporarily be shut down. We, along with hundreds of other festival-goers had to disembark in the middle of nowhere without much of an idea of what was going on or how long it would take. Fortunately things got sorted out and about an hour later we were back on track.