Looks like Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade has broken another attendance record with more than half a million people hitting Newton’s streets on Saturday, according to its organizers.
Surrey’s South Asian community on Saturday celebrated its 20th annual Vaisakhi parade, which commemorates the founding of the Sikh religion in 1699. Parades have been held in Vancouver since 1979 and in Surrey since 1998.
Moninder Singh, Surrey Vaisakhi Parade spokesman, told the Now-Leader that the “official number from the RCMP was over 500,000,” and “that is the number we are relaying.”
Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade is considered to be the largest in North America and one of the biggest outside India.
“It’s become an international event,” Singh said. “We have people coming from Australia, UK, Europe, South Asia and all over the USA and Canada. So many people coming together to celebrate together and reflect on the social justice and community building principles the Khalsa was is a testimony to how far as a people we have come in Canada.”
Singh said that while Saturday’s attendance number is “amazing,” the “most important piece” to this year’s parade was the Kwantlen First Nation opening the day with a welcoming ceremony “and recognition of the unceded and traditional First Nation territories the parade is taken out on.
“Building solidarity and community is what the day is all about and nothing could have been more reflective of this than the rightful caretakers of this land welcoming us and allowing us to be a part of their world,” Singh added. “It was a tremendously moving and inspirational moment.”
Last year, police prepared for a crowd of up to half a million people, a mighty number considered Canada’s 2016 census put the city’s population at 517,887. All told, more than 400,000 attended.
Surrey Mounties likened the 2016 parade day to “a large Canadian city without crime,” following a record-breaking attendance of 350,000 with 19 floats and no arrests or notable crime reported. Some 300,000 attended 2015’s parade.