By Lt Matt Bentley
Thursday 5 July, 1600hrs, after a long week of parade practice buses were loaded up and we were on our way to the world famous Spruce Meadows, and Calgary Stampede (The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth). On the road to Calgary, the Veterans of Spruce Meadows passed on old stories of warm welcomes and wild parties, which we would soon find out, are traditions still going strong. Later that night the buses arrived at Mount Royal College and we were pleasantly surprised to find apartment style quarters awaiting us. Although everyone was eager to explore the campus and surrounding area, it was early to bed the first night due to the 0400 wake up call coming the next morning.
We woke in the early hours of the next day and after some last minute boot polishing and uniform adjustments we once again loaded onto the bus and were on our way to meet Sgt Miller and his Leopard, Coyote and ARV crews in order to take part in the opening parade of the Calgary Stampede. The parade was an absolute success, and was highlighted by some torn up roads, an entire parkade of car alarms being set off, and one of our guys being tackled by a young women bearing flowers and kisses. The people of Calgary were extremely welcoming and gave us a standing ovation for the entire two hour-long parade. By the end of the parade, the Sky Cookie was high in the vast prairie sky and it was getting extremely hot, but our day was not over yet, we still had to practice for the big show taking place the next day at Spruce Meadows.
Later that night, armed with our remarkable beret tans, we were unleashed onto the city of Calgary to take part in the number of wild parties taking place in celebration of Stampede Week. Everyone had a good time that night and it was somewhat of a miracle that all arrived on time (less our new BCR addition) and ready to go for the following day’s parade. After all the preparations we were ready for our big show which was well executed and well received by the especially welcoming crowd.
Now that the Feu de Joie Parade was over it was time to let loose once again and enjoy the wonderful nightlife Calgary has to offer during Stampede. The evening began at the Weaselhead Pub with a few beers over a UFC fight, and it slowly developed into a very interesting evening of Karaoke, and stagette parties among other things. Even after all that excitement everyone was still able to function enough the next day to put on a grand finale for the Spruce Meadows crowd before heading back to Edmonton. By this time we had done the parade so many times that we could literally do it with our eyes closed, as I am sure some of us did. Just like the day before the parade went off without a hitch and once it was done we were changed, fed and on the road in a matter of minutes. Overall, it was a very successful weekend and everyone that took part had a great time.