Members of the South Asian community in Surrey are preparing for this weekend's 12th annual Vaisakhi parade, touted as one of the largest Vaisakhi celebrations outside of India.

As many as 200,000 spectators are expected at Saturday's event, which marks the birth of the Sikh religion.

Moninder Singh, spokesman for the parade, said he hopes Canadians from all walks of life take part in the event.

"There’s always this thinking that this is a Sikh event, this is a Punjabi event. This is a community event," Singh said.

"We’re trying more and more to go into schools, partnering with the City of Surrey, going to universities and actually just having talks and seminars as to what the significance of the day is... how it is relevant to [Canadians]... and why they should come out not just for religious celebration or spiritual celebration, but the cultural and societal celebration that goes along with it."

Provincial politicians in the thick of their election campaigns are expected to attend, including B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP leader Adrian Dix. Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair is also expected to attend.

Last week, B.C. politicians also attended a smaller Vaisakhi celebration in South Vancouver.

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said police and traffic enforcement officers will be on hand to ensure the safety of all performers and spectators.

"Every year we always have a robust and comprehensive operational plan to encompass the safety of the citizens who attend," Grainger said, adding that the biggest concern at such large events is lost children.

"Children always seem to become displaced from their parents at this event. We would like to urge parents out there mostly to be mindful. Losing your child is very easy thing to do in that sea of people."

Road Closures

The parade, which features a variety of floats, live musicians, dancers and performers, is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. PT on Saturday at the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar temple.

It will travel along 124th Street, turning left onto 75th Avenue, continuing on 76th Avenue, onto 128th Street, before finally returning to the temple at around 4:00 p.m. PT.

Expect road closures, traffic disruptions and temporary parking restrictions from 7:30 a.m. PT until approximately 5:00 p.m. PT.


View Surrey Vaisakhi Parade in a larger map