A Sqn at Spruce Meadows & Calgary Stampede 2017
by: Tpr Dylan Braconnier
Each year, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) has the opportunity to provide a 100-troop Honour Guard to parade both at Spruce Meadows, and the Calgary Stampede. It is a three day event that promises to be a good time for all those who attend, and this year was no different.
The first day of the event, for those of us from the Regiment, started on the morning of July 6th. We loaded our personal kit, combats for the Stampede parade, DEU’s for Spruce Meadows, and a cot depending on your sleeping accommodations. We then proceeded to board one of three different buses. The bus ride was followed by a practice before the main events on Saturday and Sunday. Although it was only a practice, there were crowds in attendance along with an announcer that made the experience all the more real.
Following the practice Thursday, the evening was now ours. Our next timing was early Friday morning but did that stop everyone from going out and enjoying the festivities? I think not. Friday morning was the opening parade for the Stampede, and found most of us still a little sleepy and definitely a little dehydrated. But morale was high and the parade promised to be well worth the small amount of discomfort we all found ourselves in. With a tank and an ARV in tow, the formation of soldiers from LdSH(RC) marched proudly through downtown Calgary while being cheered on by the thousands of spectators who had braved the 30+ degree weather to watch the parade. Their cheering would not go unrewarded though, as most of the children in attendance received a high-five from at least one of us and, if not, they received at least a wave. There were even a few hugs thrown around. Once again the evening was ours, a pattern that was the standard for our stay in Calgary except for a handful of soldiers being selected for weapons watch each night. Saturday was now upon us; Game Day. It was hot and everyone was sweaty, but at least we had the beat of a drum to keep us in step this time and the parade was as good as it could get. That evening and the following day mimicked the one before it with one exception: as we were all waiting to step-off to start Sunday’s parade, the honour guard was asked to pose for a picture with the Grey Cup! Even those among us who had little or no interest in football could not help but get a little excited to have this opportunity.
Spruce Meadows/Calgary Stampede 2017 had been a resounding success. There was even one soldier from the Honour Guard who had the distinct honour of representing the Regiment in the Emergency Room of the Calgary Hospital one night! All in all, the entire event went off without a hitch, leaving most if not all of us eager to volunteer for the task next year.