A change in provincial rules surrounding COVID-19 provided just the room Trout Festival organizers needed to bring back a key part of the annual event.
The Canada Day parade, once thought to be impossible to hold in the current climate, is now back on.
“They're saying with the new second stage in, you can have gatherings of up to 50 people [outdoors]. We’re going to go with our usual parade on Canada Day,” said Trout Festival board vice president Sheena Reed.
“We have a meeting on Tuesday and we're going to get everything going.”
Previous provincial health orders for Manitoba have included tight restrictions on mass gatherings - as few as 10 people only for indoor events. Those rules were relaxed May 22, allowing for as many as 50 people for an outdoor gathering. While that number won’t be enough to hold an event like the Trout Festival Fish Fry and the future of the festival’s Main Street Days remains murky, the Canada Day parade will go ahead as long as bystanders observe social distancing rules.
Reed said the event will serve several purposes, celebrating the community itself along with health care providers and first responders.
“We are going to accept trailers and floats and cars and motorcycles, anything like that. Our theme is going to be thanking frontline workers,” Reed said, adding that the maximum gathering limit should not be an issue for the parade as onlookers usually watch from smaller groups along the parade route.
“We don't usually get a whole bunch of people gathering in one area except for Main Street. People spread out on Main Street - other people can watch it from their houses elsewhere.”
So far, only vehicle-based floats will be authorized to take part in the event. It is not yet determined if there will be walking floats or banners allowed as part of the parade.
This year’s Canada Day parade will take the same route as normal, beginning at Green Street and winding up Third Avenue uptown, then going down Main Street.
Reed hopes bringing back the parade could be a symbol of hope for the community during an uncertain time.
“I hope it gives them something to look forward to and I hope people get involved. You don't have to be a big business to answer. It doesn't cost a lot of money to decorate a car or truck. The more people who participate, the more fun it will be,” she said.