No parade? No problem: Western traditions alive despite 2020 Calgary Stampede cancellation
CALGARY -- While hundreds of thousands of Calgarians and visitors might not be able to celebrate the 2020 Calgary Stampede in person, the Calgary Stampede continues to honour its iconic western heritage traditions.
The 10-day event was supposed to kick off Friday with its iconic parade of majestic horses, crowd-pleasing marching bands and colourful floats.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the event for the first time since its inception in 1912, although organizers promise its proud energy and cultural experience is still alive and well.
"We may not be able to gather together or celebrate in traditional ways during Stampede 2020, but Stampede Spirit can’t be canceled," said Dana Peers, president and chair of the Calgary Stampede Board.
Even without a parade this year, an honorary marshal is still warming the hearts of Calgarians.
Filipe Masetti Leite, a globe-galloping, Brazil-born cowboy, will lead the charge Friday in a special noon hour ceremony at Stampede Park to kick off the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Masetti Leite swung into the saddle and started a 26,800 kilometre trek on horseback from the Calgary Stampede at the event’s centennial celebration in 2012.
For the past eight years, he has been crossing the Americas on horseback — an extraordinary dream passed down from his father and inspired by the legendary long-riders of the past.
He embarked on a journey from Calgary all the way to his native Brazil, which took him 803 days over the course of 16,000 kilometres. From there, he then headed to Ushuaia, Argentina at the very southern tip of South America.
"I knew I had to finish off the Americas after that so I went up to Fairbanks, Alaska and knew I had to compete the journey in Calgary," Masetti Leite said.
The Brazilian, who immigrated to Canada as a teenager, rode 2,600 kilometres last year from Fairbanks, Alaska to Grande Prairie, Alta.
On May 20 of this year, he started his final leg to Calgary with horses Max and Smokey.
"Every day I had to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for help and every day I received help, whether they had everything or they had nothing, they gave me what they had," explained Masetti Leie. "That’s the most beautiful thing and something I want to share with people."
"To be named the Calgary Stampede parade marshal is the biggest honour of my life. I love western heritage and the values that I’ve learned have made me who I am today."
Masetti Leite is expected to enter Calgary from the northwest part of the city Friday where he will stop off at the Bowness off-leash park to prep for his final journey to the Stampede grounds.
The 2020 parade marshal will then ride down Memorial Drive to Stampede Park where he is expected to arrive between 12:15 to 12:30 for a special ceremony.
A new way to experience Stampede favourites
Despite restrictions on public gatherings, the Calgary Stampede has come up with some fun and creative ways to experience its iconic midway this year.
A number of 'grab-and-go' food events will allow Calgarians to enjoy the Stampede treats they love in a controlled environment.
A mini donut drive-thru, a BMO Kids’ Day drive-thru pancake breakfast and a Stampede food truck rally presented by Sentinel Self Storage is expected to offer up a wide variety of savoury treats.
"It’s hard to imagine a July in Calgary without a Stampede pancake breakfast, mini-donuts and other midway treats," said Dana Peers, president and chair of the Calgary Stampede Board.
"I’m extremely excited to share that enjoying all three of those Stampede staples will be possible this July and we also have a few more surprises in store!"
The events will take place during the following times.
Mini donut drive-thru:
Stampede Park, Noon – 9 p.m., July 6, 7, 9, 10 & 11
- Advance ticket purchase offer includes two complimentary gate admissions to Sneak-a-Peek at the 2021 Calgary Stampede, courtesy of Bell
- Pre-purchase information available soon, see CalgaryStampede.com for more details
BMO Kids’ Day pancake drive-thru:
Stampede Park, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., July 8
- Complimentary breakfast provided by BMO
- Advance registration required, available soon, see CalgaryStampede.com for more details
Stampede Food Truck Rally presented by Sentinel Storage:
- Stampede Park, Noon – 9 p.m., July 4 & 5
- Additional dates and locations to be announced, see Calgarystampede.com for more details
Pancakes to go, please?
The Community Pancake Drive-Thru presented by GMC hopes to keep the Stampede spirit alive with a free pancake breakfast at Cross Iron Mills this Saturday.
The event will run from 9 a.m. to noon and requires pre-registration online to reduce lineups and ensure breakfasts are hot and ready once people arrive.
Limited spots are available and food will only be offered to those inside vehicles, with no walk-up traffic permitted.
To register, head to CalgaryStampede.com
Bell Fireworks show lights up the sky
It wouldn’t be Stampede without fireworks, right?
The Bell Fireworks Spectacular will make good on bringing Calgarians a display that will be bigger and higher than traditional Stampede fireworks and available to anyone with a view of the city skyline.
Fireworks shows will take place at 11 p.m. on July 3 and 12.
Stampede Park will be closed to the public for the event, as the entire Stampede grounds will be utilized for the massive fireworks display.
CTV Calgary will broadcast the Bell Fireworks Spectacular live on television and a livestream will be available on our website.
Those who want to watch the fireworks outdoors are asked to follow physical distancing protocols.
Once you’ve found a spot, tune in to FUNNY 1060AM for a musical soundtrack that will accompany the display.