This year marks the first float entry by the Alberta Thai-Canadian Association into the World Famous Calgary Stampede Parade.
The parade kicks off the city’s 10 crazy days of its’ western heritage celebration. During good years, businesses shut down, parties rage, bulls are ridden and Stampede Park hosts thousands of visitors each day. During poor years, businesses slow down, parties pop, bull is spoken and Stampede Park hosts thousands of visitors each day.
Participation in the Parade is a triumph for the businesses and non-profits who are lucky enough to be approved entry. It means millions of people will see your float live or broadcast on TV. The possibility of increased business because of the exposure can be translated into additional clients, revenue or membership. Not to mention the bragging rights that come with the acceptance of entry and the anticipation of receiving the coveted Best Float designation given by the Parade Judges.
The current President of the Alberta Thai Canadian Association (ATCA) is an intelligent, tour de force woman, who has a definite vision of what the Association can achieve and the road map to its success. She is able to rally the membership to whole heartedly strive to execute new ideas in order to deftly move their organization into the diverse cultural arena that makes up Calgary’s multi-national population.
The ATCA entry, conceived out of love for their homeland Thailand and their desire to share it with the world, brought together over 100 people to create. Visionaries, organizers, planners, designers, builders, choreographers and audio specialists spent months working to achieve their dream of the beautiful float following the 80 people representing different aspects of Thai culture.
The Thailand Sign Bearer, a young Thai woman dressed in a gold Thai Chakkraphat, led the way gaily waving, smiling and enjoining the audience to visit Thailand, if just for a moment. Next came the ATAC Banner adorned by the Serpent of Thailand and carried by four ladies. Dressed in traditional Nung long skirts and Sabai shawls, they walked in front of two young men also in traditional dress who carried the Canadian and Thai flags.
Following the Banner and the Flag Bearers were Thai and Canadian ladies in traditional dress carrying gold and silver Pan Pum offering statues.
Next in line were the talented Thai and Canadian dancers who like fluid colour flowed along the parade route. Their colourful outfits sparkled and jingled in the hot Alberta sun as they moved through the intricate dance steps to the music booming from the speakers mounted in the float.
The last performers, the Muay Thai Boxers, like the protectors of Thailands honour, walked before the float. Men, women and children throwing kicks, popping punches and entertaining the audience with their fighting antics.
The last vision of Thailand on the parade route was the ATCA Float, drawn by a well camouflaged truck covered in fabric, ribbons and glitter.
The float was adorned with a large triangular Golden Stupa, strategically placed amoung colourful exotic flowers and beautiful Thai ladies representing the 4 corners of Thailand. The lovely ladies, each outfitted in the traditional dress of their area waved and proudly exemplified the loving and generous nature of the Thai people. A golden goddess waved from the centre of the float, representing a unified Thailand shining like a bright light out of the east.
The passing of the float signaled the end of the ATCA entry, the audience members fondly waved and smiled as they watched a small piece of Thailand move further along the parade route.
The Alberta Thai Canadian Association entry may not have won any official awards from the Parade Judges, but the award of confidence and success they won in their hearts is untouchable and immeasurable.
Cheryle July 2015