Calgary residents are getting a happy diversion from their water woes, as its annual Stampede summer festival begins today with a downtown parade.

The parade comes a month to the day after a major water main broke in the city’s northwest, flooding streets and turning off the taps to 60 per cent of the drinking water for the city and surrounding communities.

Crews scrambled to repair the line and, in the process, found five more weak spots to fix.

A directive to have Calgarians cut their indoor water use by 25 per cent with fewer showers and toilet flushes was lifted earlier this week.

A ban on outdoor watering remains in place as the water system runs at reduced capacity to keep enough water in reserve to fight fires and the replacement line undergoes tests.

The Stampede – a combination midway fair, entertainment festival and rodeo competition — brings thousands of visitors to the city every July.

Earlier this month, there were concerns the population bump from the 10-day event would push the city’s water system to a breaking point.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said while she has asked Calgarians to continue to go slow on their indoor water use, contingency plans are in place for the Stampede.

“It was heartening to see that the Calgary Stampede and their CEO found a way to continue the greatest outdoor show on Earth in a responsible way, by finding ways to save water or bring in water from places outside of Calgary,” Gondek said Thursday.

Calgarians put water crisis aside, prepare for fun at Stampede. #CalgaryStampede

She said the Stampede will, for example, clean the rodeo grandstand less frequently using non-treated water.

“When you head down to the Stampede grounds this year you will be able see the water storage tanks that are in place and ready to go as needed," she added.

The parade, snaking through the downtown, is to be headed by actor and parade marshal Owen Crow Shoe.

The Stampede is also the site of political pancake flipping. Premier Danielle Smith is scheduled to toss flapjacks on Monday, while the Opposition NDP, with new leader Naheed Nenshi, is to host three pancake events starting Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024.

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Animal Justice, the organization trying to wake people to the tortuous harms inflicted on domesticated and wild animals in Canada, is running a series of stories and fund raisers on line about the Calgary Stampede. Apparently the Chuck Wagon race - source of far too many deaths of horses engaged in the contest, is back after a brief hiatus from the line-up of events almost all of which involve the terrorizing of animals by the so-called cowboys who are generally professional full time rodeo athletes.

Very few rodeo cowboys hit the big time and the cost to them in terms of injury and endless hours on the road makes one think they are all addicted to the delusions of grandeur and risk. In truth it is the animals they tackle who most often wind up injured and euthanized, some of whom have never enjoyed a peaceful pasture.
Killing animals who have no say in this travesty for "sport" and cheap thrills is no better than the Roman Circus or bear baiting, bull fighting or dog fighting. Entertainment that exploits and kills animals is disgusting. Better that humans should patronize wrestling, boxing, mixed martial arts.... At least all the humans involved have at least some agency and knowledge of what they are in for.