Beneath glorious blue skies and brilliant sunshine the 53rd edition of the Gold Cup Parade wound its way through the streets of Charlottetown Friday to the cheers and applause of thousands of Islanders and visitors who lined the parade route.
With more than 100 entries it took well over an hour for the parade to pass by.
“We drive over every year from Moncton for this parade and have never been disappointed, except once or twice by the weather,” said Claudette LeBlanc. “It took a little longer to see everything this year but it was still a great parade. We don’t have anything near this good in Moncton.”
Alan MacDonald of Souris said it was well worth the trip to town.
“I had the day off, enjoyed the parade immensely and now I’m going for lobster, beer and some harness racing. Couldn’t be better. Still wondering what happened to the Mike Duffy balloon though. “
This year’s parade theme was “Parade of Heroes” and many floats took that theme to heart celebrating the contributions of Second World War and Korean War veterans, as well as the contributions of everyday heroes like police, firefighters and paramedics.
Few grasped the theme better than MacDougall Steel Erectors, winner of the most outstanding parade entry, who entered a float celebrating future heroes.
That float featured children dressed as emergency responders rescuing super heroes from a burning house.
And there were other heroes as well Friday, from comic book characters to sports heroes.
P.E.I.’s Korean War veterans served as this year’s parade marshals and about a third of the 30 remaining veterans took part in the parade.
They received a standing ovation from many lining the route.
Parade officials had promised one of the best parades ever and they did their best to deliver.
There were brass bands, pipe bands, rock’n’roll bands and majorettes.
There were vintage trucks and tractors, stock cars, custom vehicles and novelty vehicles.
There were clowns and cartoon characters to delight young and old alike, from Kermit the frog, Barney and Despicable Me Minions to Angry Birds and Beauty and The Beast.
And there were Gold Cup Ambassadors, a perennial highlight of the parade since its inception in 1962.
Traveling in convertibles that bore the names of the horses they represent, they serve to remind us of one of the primary reasons for establishing the parade over 50 years ago.
Like any summer parade on P.E.I., the Gold Cup Parade featured scores of smiling happy children waving from floats, beauty pageant winners and assorted clowns.
And for sheer entertainment value the Shriners continued to deliver the goods, zipping in and out on their assortment of miniature vehicles.
There are always surprises and this year was no exception.
This year that included people who thought the parade was over and drove into the middle of things only to discover they were now part of the parade because.... surprise, surprise...there was actually more to come.
Heather MacLean, a spokeswoman for the parade, said issues with some of the inflatables slowed down sections of the parade, creating gaps.
“We switched this year from helium to cold air and that slowed things down,” MacLean said. “One of the inflatables collapsed and had to be taken out of the parade altogether.”
Still the parade accomplished what the parade is supposed to accomplish, it brought thousands into the downtown core, entertained and delighted people of all ages and sent most home with smiles on their faces and cameras full of photographs.