Calgary Stampede 2019
By: MCpl Andy Elms and Capt Joshua Horlings
This year, once again, the Regiment made its way down to Calgary with 107 soldiers for the Calgary Stampede Parade and Spruce Meadows. While the more experienced contingent members prepared their minds and bodies, not only for the Parades but for the upcoming nights, those participating for the first time seemed to buzz with excitement as they made plans on the ride down.
As per tradition, on Friday morning the troops did not show the same energy levels as they had the day before. The Calgary climate, it seems, takes a toll on even the most stalwart trooper; it must have something to do with the altitude. But after some coffee and electrolytes, they were ready to march the streets of Calgary. With rain clouds threatening, the parade began.
Unlike past years, the Strathconas was placed in the middle of the parade rather than at the end. Fortunately, this gave the soldiers the opportunity to see a good portion of the parade as they waited and ensured that the crowd was reinvigorated by the most exciting of all entries—the Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank.
Commanded by WO James “Don’t interview me” Hamilton and with Cpl Brad “Sunday-to-Sunday” Logan as the Loader, the Leopard 2 managed to drown out even the most excited fans as it performed for the eager crowd. Not to be outdone, the ARV crew set to work performing doughnuts as often as possible. In behind the Leopard 2, the TAPV, LAV 6 and even an intrepid G-Wagon attempted (with varying levels of success) to soak in the glory of the finest machine in the Canadian Army.
The marching contingent made up of soldiers from all across the Regiment started the parade marching in order to pay respects to visiting VIPs. Dodging horse manure and attempting to stay in step in such a loud atmosphere proved somewhat challenging but the contingent managed to hold it together. Following the eyes-left to the gathered dignitaries, the marchers switched into an easy walk and engaged with the crowd. Waving and giving high-fives the Strathconas managed to make even the most solemn businessman watching from his 8th floor boardroom crack a smile.
Overall the Stampede Parade proved to be an excellent experience for all involved. For many soldiers experiencing it for the first time, the cheers, appreciation and support of their fellow Canadians was profound and memorable.