The Calgary Stampede racked up its first injury before its parade started after a horse reared when the parade fireworks went off, rolling over a showrider.
The fireworks signal the start of Friday’s parade, and scare even the calmest horses. The showrider's horse stood on its hind legs, fell back on the cowgirl and both hit the pavement. The Calgary Stampede Showriders, dressed in red, white, and black, are experienced cowgirls.
The accident happened behind the parade’s starting line, meaning few spectators saw the accident. The injured parade participant was put on a stretcher with her neck stabilized and taken away by EMS personnel. She never lost consciousness and was able to talk and move limbs. Her eyes, however, were red.
The start of the parade was delayed a few minutes, but went ahead as the showrider was being treated. Astronaut Chris Hadfield led the parade, followed by such dignitaries as Premier Alison Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Fans gathered behind the starting line before the parade began, seeking autographs with Mr. Hadfield, a Canadian made famous after commanding the International Space Station and tweeting pictures of planet Earth. Mr. Nenshi also garnered significant attention – all praise after leading the city through the massive floods that swept through Calgary and neighbouring communities.
Simon O’Brien, 7, approached Mr. Hadfield before the parade started. Mr. Hadfield, sitting on his horse Jag, said: “Shake my hand. Shake my hand,” and advised the youngster to look people in the eye when shaking hands.
Larissa Jahnke rushed Mr. Nenshi for a handshake before he mounted Garfield, his horse. “Mr. Nenshi, you’re doing a great job of cleaning up the city,” she told him. Her house was flooded.
Spectators arose early for the annual event, packing in the bleachers long before the parade – full of floats and marching bands – hit the streets.
The parade is packed with typical sights like marching bands, the Shriners, bagpipes, and clusters of horses. The Cochrane Lions Rodeo Princess 2013, for example, rode a horse, waved to the crowd, and was decked out in a sparkly purple cowgirl shirt.
But Stampede's parade also comes with unusual entrants. An old-fashioned funeral home horse carriage rolled by, advertising a company specializing in the business of embalming.
A float from Whitefish, Mont., advertising its winter carnival, carried folks appeared to be dressed up as Vikings.
Street sweepers were also part of the show, zooming through the streets of Calgary`s downtown core in clusters of three and cleaning up after the horses. The lead sweepers are decorated with animal heads, with one sporting a bull's head.
Parks Canada brought the country's two official languages to the parade, reminding spectators not to feed the animals - a strict rule in national parks.
"Hello, bonjour," another Parks marcher said.
The state of emergency for Calgary was lifted Thursday, and the 101st Stampede is largely being viewed as a pick-me-up after the Bow and Elbow Rivers wiped out thousands of homes and temporarily shutdown downtown – the site of the parade.
Stampede Park was also significantly damaged in the floods.