Friday, June 22, 2012
A Grande Parade scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Fort Erie will honour War of 1812 soldiers 200 years later with what organizers are calling the largest bicentennial parade in North America. (Photo special to QMI Agency Niagara)
Returning soldiers from the War of 1812 never got a real parade. Until now.
A Grande Parade scheduled for Saturday afternoon will honour those soldiers 200 years later with what organizers are calling the largest bicentennial parade in North America. More than 80 units and 2,000 participants are expected to take part, including 1812 re-enactors, marching bands, floats and displays. The grande finale will be the Band of the Canadian Forces.
Even if it’s two centuries too late, parade organizer John Sek says it’s important to acknowledge the men and women who helped forge Canada’s identity.
“They were farmers, they were colonists at the time,” he says. “It was quite literally, ‘War is over, go back and start plowing the fields again.’ It was such small places (they lived in) that the idea of having a parade or celebration or pat in the back didn’t happen here.”
Calling it the biggest Bicentennial Grande Parade in North America was an easy claim, adds Sek — it’s the only one.
The four-kilometre parade begins at Gilmore Rd. and Central Ave. at 2 p.m., heading towards the Niagara Parkway where it will turn right towards Old Fort Erie. It ends at Beatrice St.
The entire parade will take about two and a half hours.
Afterwards will be a Military Tattoo at Old Fort Erie at 7:30 p.m. with six of the parade’s top bands participating. The evening ends with fireworks at 10 p.m., replicating the attack on the fort from the British, Canadian and Native soldiers in August 1814.
Honourary Parade Marshall will be General Rick Hillier, former chief of defence staff of the Canadian Forces.
“It’s a huge parade,” says Sek. “We could almost compare (it to) the Pasadena Rose Parade.”
Antique cars will also be displayed at Mather Arch following the parade.