Cheering and flag waving were plentiful in Aldergrove as the annual parade hit the streets at 9:45 a.m. on July 1.
After a deadly heat wave and a year-and-a-half of cancelled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were grateful to be out in cool weather, witnessing a community gathering.
Organized by Aldergrove Fair Days, the parade route was extended to more than six kilometres long to allow for additional room for physical distancing.
Traditionally the parade has been about a half a mile.
The parade kicked off at Aldergrove Community Secondary School – led by the Township of Langley Fire Department.
Floats and participants travelled west along 29th Avenue, continuing east along 32nd Avenue to Station Road, then south to 28th Avenue and west to 272nd Street before returning onto 29th Avenue.
Different politicians, dignitaries, organizations like the Earth Ninjas, and classic cars and tractors zipped down the streets.
There were roughly 30 entries, though organizer Karen Long pointed out some participants had multiple floats and vehicles.
Mike Robinson, Aldergrove Canada Day Parade chair, said there was an amazing turnout of colourful floats large and small, which helped 5,000 or so spectators have a great time on Canada’s birthday.
“Thanks to all those people who polished, decorated, built and participated in the parade,” Robinson noted. “Some came from quite a distance to share the fun so special thanks to those.”
Johan Gunther, a member of the Canadian Legion Riders motorcycle club, had a special passenger in a sidecar for the parade – his 96-year-old mother-in-law Marian Powell.
Powell, a longtime resident and Legion volunteer, said she wasn’t scared and simply took on the duty because she had never ridden in a sidecar before.
Originally from Mexico, Gunther welcomed the parade and the chance for his community to come together.
“This is home. It’s a welcoming country and I’m proud to be here,” he said.
“For every person we saw in the Parade there was probably at least one other person somewhere helping with organization, marshalling, security, food, logistics, publicity, clean-up,” Robinson added. “It’s a team effort of volunteers taking the initiative to do great things.”
Aldergrove Plaza, the former site of the Alder Inn, was also initiated with an inaugural event that honoured Canada’s multiculturalism and Indigenous heritage.
Amid findings of unmarked children’s graves at former residential school sites, calls for Canada Day to be cancelled echoed across the nation.
Long called the emotional weight of the day “difficult,” noting the day was marred with guilt and sorrow for many.
Cst. Troy Derrick – member of the Gitxsan First Nation hereditary leadership and Surrey RCMP under the First Nations Policing Unit – was invited to speak in a special ceremony.
Kwantlen First Nation and Matsqui peoples spoke on experiences with elders going through the residential school system and what people can do to lend support during the troubling body discoveries.
“It’s not enough to lower the flags to half-mast, please listen and tell our stories to others,” urged one speaker.
Shyama-Priya, a First Nations dance instructor performed with The Wild Moccasin Dancers, while Korean drummer and dancer Ms Yong Joo Kim and Polynesian dancer Angela Tagi also preformed.
The Township of Langley, meanwhile, hosted an online event featuring country singer-songwriter Cambree Lovesy, will include a concert with West Coast Celtic roots band Tiller’s Folly and 20-year-old RnB songstress Glisha.
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