Put away your lawn chairs: 2021 Calgary Stampede parade to take place virtually

A parade float pass spectators lining a parkade during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 6, 2018. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Along with physical distancing, increased sanitization and other health protocols, the Calgary Stampede will be looking different this time around and that also applies to one of its premiere events.

Officials say this year's parade will be a broadcast-only experience as bands and horses will make their way along a modified path through Stampede Park.

No in-person spectators will be allowed because the parade will take place before the park is open to the public.

While this is only expected to be the situation this year, the virtual experience won't have any less magic than the real thing.

"While spectators will experience it differently this year, the 2021 edition brings together everything that makes the Calgary Stampede Parade so special," said Jennifer Evangelista, chair of the Calgary Stampede Parade Committee in a release.

"A tremendous amount of work has gone into assembling a parade that features the world-famous Calgary Stampede Showband, the dozens of horses, the floats and armoured vehicles which everyone expects to see."

This year's parade marshal is Katari Right Hand, a young woman from the Siksika First Nation who is featured on the 2021 Stampede poster. In addition to Katari taking part in the parade, Lexi Hilderman, the artist who created it will also be participating.

GIVING CREDIT TO ESSENTIAL WORKERS

Playing into the event's theme of Coming Out of the Storm Together, officials say a special entry has been created to ensure those Calgarians who helped keep the city safe during the COVID-19 pandemic are recognized.

That section of the parade will include members of Calgary's health-care, police and fire services as well as others whose occupations were vital to the continuation of services for all residents such as grocery store workers, transit drivers, truck drivers, care facility staff as well as educators.

"Without these brave souls there would be no Stampede in 2021," Evangelista said. "We owe a great deal to all of them."

There will be 59 entries in the 2021 Calgary Stampede, including floats and horses, all led by the Calgary Stampede Showband.

The Calgary Stampede runs from July 9 to 18.