The Victoria Day Parade celebrates its 120th anniversary this year, hitting the streets of downtown Monday, May 21 at 9 a.m. Organizers anticipate 100,000 people to gather along the Douglas Street route to watch over 100 floats and marching bands. (Black Press file image)

Victoria Day Parade returns to celebrate 120 years

F18 Hornets to honour #HumboldtStrong with first ever fly past, kicking off parade

For 120 years, Victorians have kicked off the summer with the annual Island Farms Victoria Day Parade. The weekend full of events launches tomorrow.

“The parade is sort of the grand finale,” says Kelly Kurta, executive director of the Greater Victoria Festival Society.

The party kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. with live music from the legislature lawn until 6 p.m. The fun picks up again at 10 a.m. Sunday, and keep your eyes on the water for the 44th Annual Decorated Boat Parade at 12:30 p.m. along the Inner Harbour.

Students from Reynolds secondary school lead the school’s marching band in the 2017 Victoria Day Parade. Photo contributed

At 2 p.m. the annual drum battle, a weekend favourite, throws down some hip-hop beats. “The kids have an absolute blast with it, and everyone takes over the [legislature] lawn,” Kurta says.

First thing Monday morning, expect road closures along Douglas Street, up to Finlayson, which will serve as the staging area for the parade.

A flash mob will signal the start of the festivities just after 8 a.m. with the parade to follow an hour later.

Keep some ear plugs handy as this year, a Royal Canadian Air Force 443 Squadron Sea King helicopter, followed by F-18 Hornets, will fly past in honour of all athletes, coaches and parents worldwide and to support #HumboldtStrong.

Known for showcasing some of the biggest and best marching bands in the Pacific Northwest, the parade will again feature local music makers as well as some from south of the border.

The University of Washington will be back with their cheerleaders who Kurta calls “top notch.”

Twelve judges will select winners in three categories – marching band, float and walking group – from over 100 entries in this year’s parade, which will also be viewable via live stream.

An estimated 50,000 people will watch remotely, along with the 100,000 expected to pack the edges of Douglas Street between Mayfair Shopping Centre and Humboldt Street.

People plan their vacations around the parade, Kurta says, and for some of the students travelling from Washington and Oregon to perform with their bands, it’ll mark their first trip to Canada.

“The parade has put us on the map, it’s part of our history,” she says.

For more details on post-parade festivities at Centennial Square, visit GVFS.ca or find the Greater Victoria Festival Society on Facebook.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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