People of all ages take part in Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade in Newton. (File photo)

Vaisakhi parade to fill Surrey streets Saturday: Everything you need to know

More than 500,000 people expected for one of the world’s largest Vaisakhi-related events

Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi Parade – among the largest in the world – will be held this Saturday, April 20, filling streets of Newton with food, entertainment, dancing and more.

“For more than 20 years, the parade has been held in Surrey and has brought together crowds that have reached an estimated count of 500,000 in the largest Khalsa Day Parade held outside of India,” says a post on the city’s website.

To pay tribute to the harvest celebration roots of the parade, attendees are given free food and drink from hundreds of local residents and businesses.

• READ MORE:

Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade: A procession guide, starting with Sikh Riders

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

A number of road closures will be in place near Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar (12885 85th Ave.), where the parade begins at around 9 a.m. and concludes there around dinnertime.

The parade route, application forms and other event details are online at surreyvaisakhiparade.com.

CLICK HERE to view the parade map for 2019.

“It is an occasion of performance, live music, decorated floats and food and drink complimentary of local residents and businesses. The annual Vaisakhi Parade invites people of all cultures and religions to experience the joyous day and savor the unique food and entertainment.”

• RELATED STORY: Vaisakhi voices in Surrey: What does Vaisakhi mean to you?

In 2018, Surrey’s South Asian community 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.

Last year, under mostly blue skies, an estimated 500,000 people attended the Vaisakhi parade in Newton – a new record for attendance.

Parade organizers remind businesses and individuals participating in the parade-route kiosks and stands to observe a number of rules.

The parade is a no-drone zone. “Transport Canada safety rules prohibit flying drones close to people, buildings, and areas where aircraft take off and land (airport, heliports, aerodromes),” warns the city’s website.

“If you are a recreational drone operator and do not follow the rules, you could face fines of up to $3,000. All non-recreational drone operators need permission to fly.”

Also, due to a potential disruption to the airspace caused by a large number of balloons being released accidentally, all participants are asked to respect a strict “no helium balloon” policy.

“There is a serious safety concern for air traffic due to large numbers floating into the air traffic space above the parade route,” the event website says.

For propane use, cylinders should be placed so they do not block any entrances or exits, and so the propane hose is not a tripping hazard. All gas-fired equipment must bear a seal of approved certification mark for use in Canada.

Any food trucks, carts, etc., must bear an acceptable certification from either Technical Safety BC or an approved certification agency.

Anyone wishing to serve food must have a temporary hand washing area next to the food preparation area, and wear gloves for all food preparation and serving.

Anyone setting up a food stand at this year’s event is asked to ensure that tents are not set up on the sidewalks alongside the route. “This causes a significant public hazard,” event organizers say.

Meantime, Surrey RCMP cautioned that with the large crowds at the parade, it can be easy for people to become separated from their group.

“During previous Vaisakhi celebrations, our officers have responded to dozens of incidents of missing children or elderly persons and administered first aid to people who became dehydrated or overwhelmed in the crowds,” police said in a release.

“This year we are passing along some tips for participants to keep the parade safe and enjoyable:

* Have a plan in place with your family prior to the event to reduce your risk of separation.

* Familiarize your family members with their surroundings and have a pre-planned meeting place.

* Equip your family members with some form of identification and your contact information.

* Make sure everyone in your party is aware of the location of the Surrey RCMP Missing Person’s tent and the location of emergency personnel.

* Keep your children within eyesight at all times. Take a photo of your child or elderly adult on your phone when you leave the house or arrive at the parade so that police have an accurate description of them in the event they do go missing.

* Remember to dress for the weather and stay hydrated.

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