The Canada Day Parade returned to its traditional format in Niagara Falls, with about 50 participants, including marching bands, pipers and dancers, entertaining red-clad crowds that lined downtown streets on Friday.
“We are excited to celebrate Canada Day, but also to be able to get out and enjoy the community again,” said Kristen Rose, who was in attendance with her four-year-old daughter, Sierra, and her butterfly dog, Rosie.
Rose said her daughter was only one year old the last time she was able to attend a parade.
“It’s great socializing, it’s a great way to teach (kids) about the country they live in – (his daughter spoke) about Canada and how she likes living here.”
Yukari Kuwazuru brought her one-year-old daughter, Mia Ding, to the Niagara Falls event, saying it was her first time attending Canada Day in the city.
“It’s amazing,” said Kuwazuru, who was born in Japan and has lived in Canada for about 15 years.
“I just wanted to show (his daughter) Canadian culture.”
Nathan Smith, community development coordinator for the city, said it was “great to see” the parade participants interact with the crowd.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of artists, bands that have been kind of hung up, waiting for events to get back to them for the past two years, and I know they were super excited to come out,” he said. .
“It looks like we had a pretty solid turnout.”
Smith said the parade gives participants, including community groups and artists, a “platform to show what they’re doing.”
“In many cases with our community groups, it’s just a great team building type event – get out there, have fun as a group and also tell the community a bit about what they’re up to and what. programs are available,” he said.
“And for our artists, it’s a business, but you can’t help but think they love what they do.”
Mayor Jim Diodati said it was “refreshing to see all the smiling families from all the families.”
“It wasn’t as busy as usual, but I think it’s going to take a little while to get back into place,” he said.
“Usually when it’s a Friday it’s not as crowded as when it’s during the week because on Friday a lot of people make plans for the weekend and go somewhere.”
Diodati said he also takes note of the “significant” number of newcomers attending the parade.
“Here we tend to complain about how things could be improved, but these people who come from other countries say, ‘you have no idea how bad it can be. Even with all your problems, you are still the best country in the world,” and they are so happy and grateful to be here.
Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade was held in a drive-thru format, where licensed vehicles drove along Queen Street and interacted with stationary performers.
On Friday, people lined the parade route, starting at Victoria Avenue and Armory Street, Valley Way and Queen Street, and watched as parade participants entertained them. The parade ended on Erie Avenue, in front of City Hall.
This year’s Canada Day festivities didn’t just involve a parade. The Niagara Falls History Museum was free, featuring Canada Day themed activities and games.
The city also offers a variety of free events and activities throughout the long weekend.
From Friday until Sunday, between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., all outdoor pools in the city will be free and will include games, prizes and complementary freezies for children.
On Saturdays, between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., the Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market in the MacBain Community Center parking lot will offer live entertainment and prizes to be won.
On Sundays, between 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., free public skating will be available at the Gale Center for anyone dressed in red and white.
For more information on Canada Day events in Niagara Falls, visit niagarafalls.ca.