2012 Calgary Stampede set to begin
By Christopher Walsh
The fireworks are in place, the Koolaid’s in the deep-fryer, the performers have taken to the grounds, the massive Centennial Zipline is hung, the Outlaw Rollercoaster is running its loops, the cowboys and horses have arrived and somewhere Paul Brandt is rehearsing a routine with the Young Canadians that involves a three-storey birthday cake.
This is the greatest outdoor show on earth, after all, and after 100 years, the organizers have learned a thing or two about throwing a massive party that kicks off Friday.
But it isn’t just the organizers that make this show great, it’s the people of Calgary, says Calgary Stampede president Mike Casey.
“It’s a big deal for the entire city of Calgary,” he said. “This is the city’s party and it’s delightful to see everybody participating the way they are.
“I think that’s what makes this so different. The entire city embraces this show that we call the Stampede. [Stampede historian] Max Foran says that has become a special word. And when you use that word to talk about Calgary, and talk about western heritage and values – that’s what started the Stampede and that’s what has made it go for 100 years. And that’s what’s going to keep it going for the next 100.”
The 2012 Calgary Stampede begins Friday morning with the annual Stampede Parade through downtown Calgary, led this year by parade marshal Ian Tyson. The parade will begin shortly after 9 a.m. at 6 Ave. and 3 St. S.E., travel west on 6 Ave., south on 10 St., and then east on 9 Ave.
New additions to the 2012 Calgary Stampede will include the Tails performance that will highlight the history of the show told through the eyes of three horses, the Outlaw Rollercoaster, the Centennial Zipline that will send riders shooting out 60 km/h from 118 ft in the air, numerous free acts at the Bell Centennial Plaza including Recycled Percussion and Australian illusionists Adam and Selina, plenty of local music including a nightly performance by Paul Brandt at the grandstand show, crazy new delicacies like deep-fried Koolaid and Wagon-wheels and the largest synchronized musical fireworks display ever witnessed in Canada.
Light Up the City will take place between 11 and 11:30 p.m. on six nights of the 10-day celebration. Taking place across the city at Stampede Park, Canada Olympic Park, Heritage Park, McCall Lake and Elliston Park, the fireworks will be set to music through Corus radio stations and shuttles will be available to the different locations.
A new tribute to the Treaty 7 First Nations tribes has been erected at the main gate near the LRT station on the grounds that consists of a stylized tepee that will shoot a beam of light into the night sky.
Casey says even with all the changes, the Stampede will still be true to what made it great.
“We call it the greatest outdoor show on earth for a good reason,” he said. “Every year we try to do something better, the programming is always improving.
“We’ve tried to improve the programming and focus on not just the past, but also how we’re going to be building in the future. It’s a great year to do all that.”
And it almost goes without saying that this Stampede will be the best ever.
“Yes, but I already know things are in the mill for 2013,” Casey said. “It’s going to be an absolutely stunning show next year, so participate this year and keep your breath, because next year it’s going to be even better.”