Victoria Day Parade offers new surprises

The 117th annual edition of the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade is reinventing itself, sort of.

The 117th annual edition of the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade is reinventing itself, sort of.

“We’ve got a few surprises for everyone,” said Kelly Kurta, parade chair and general manger of the Greater Victoria Festival Society.

This year’s parade, which starts at 9 a.m. Monday (May 18) and runs the length of Douglas Street from Finlayson to Humboldt streets, is dedicated to former parade chair Ron Butlin.

Butlin died last year.

There are 112 entries in this year’s parade, lower than previous years, but that’s by design, Kurta said.

“We talked to the city and they felt a 3.5-hour parade was really long for children, for seniors and the audience watching. It doesn’t really engage everybody for that long,” she said.

“One of the things we wanted to do was make it a little bit smaller and more engaging, but a bigger experience.”

Kurta expects the parade to last about 2.5 hours.

New this year is a performance by the Greater Victoria Concert Band in front of City Hall from 8 to 9 a.m.

A CH-124 Sea King helicopter from Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron 443, based at the Victoria Airport, will lead the parade, flying 500 feet above the crowd.

Other highlights of the parade will be a visit by residents of Morioka, Japan, which mark 30 years as a sister city of Victoria.

Fifteen bands will take part in this year’s parade, including Lambrick Park marching band. It will be the first Canadian band in the procession as it is the last Victoria Day Parade for band teacher Bruce Ham.

At the parade’s end, there will be music presentations and the Food Truck Festival at the Royal B.C. Museum.

“This year’s parade will rock it to the end,” said a confident Kurta.