CALGARY -- The 2021 Calgary Stampede Parade will follow a different route and not be open to spectators thanks to the ongoing pandemic, but will still feature some familiar traditions. 

The parade to kick off the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth usually attracts hundreds of thousands of Stampede-goers along its downtown route, and organizers are hoping that will happen again, albeit virtually.

The parade will still feature the popular floats, marching bands and mounted riders, but rather than travelling through downtown on July 9, this year's parade will be held at Stampede Park before the grounds open to the public.

Katari Right Hand from the Siksika First Nation, who is featured on this year's Stampede poster, has been chosen as the 2021 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal.

Right Hand’s Blackfoot name is Nààpiwa otó piim Akikowan, which means Rainbow Girl and as a fancy dancer, her regalia features signature rainbow ribbons.

"I am very proud and excited to be the 2021 Stampede Parade Marshal, so I can represent Niitsitapiiks. I'd like to thank Lexi Hilderman for selecting my picture as her entry for the Calgary Stampede 2021 poster contest," said Right Hand.

"I would also like to thank the Calgary Stampede for choosing me to be the 2021 parade marshal. But, most of all, I want to thank my parents, Marcell and Delores Right Hand, for raising me to be the best that I can be. Thank you to Creator and everyone for your continued guidance and support."

Steve McDonough, president and chairman of the Stampede board called it an honour to have Right Hand lead this year's parade.

"I was inspired by the image Lexi submitted and wanted to learn more about the remarkable young woman featured," he said.

"Katari Right Hand’s name Rainbow Girl is a reminder that we are coming out of a storm together and that as the clouds move behind us, the sun will shine again.”

The 2021 Stampede Parade will also welcome a special group of honorary parade marshals who have been instrumental in our community through the past year and a half. 

“We want to recognize the essential workers who have given so much to our community throughout the pandemic. From those who went to work each day at local grocery stores to ensure we had access to essential supplies, to the medical staff who have worked so tirelessly,” says McDonough.

Hilderman will also be joining in the festivities, travelling the route in the Calgary Stampede Foundation carriage. The 2020 parade marshal, Filipe Masetti Leite, who achieved a dream of crossing the Americas on horseback, arriving in Calgary last July, will be back for a more boisterous celebration.

His arrival in Calgary following his incredible journey was celebrated despite the cancellation of the 2020 Stampede Parade.  

The Calgary Stampede has arranged a partnership with Global Calgary to broadcast the virtual edition of this year's parade.