Stampede parade washes away Calgary's flood blues

Flood-weary Calgarians are taking a break from the cleanup as they line the streets downtown to watch the Stampede parade.

City's biggest party goes ahead 2 weeks after floodwaters ravage southern Alberta

Flood-weary Calgarians took a break from cleaning up to watch the Stampede parade Friday. 2:06:04

Flood-weary Calgarians were taking a break from the cleanup Friday morning as they lined the streets downtown to watch the Stampede parade.

Just two weeks after the city was hit with unprecedented flooding, the official kickoff to the Calgary Stampede wound through its traditional route along some streets that were recently under water.

A quarter of a million people are expected to come out and watch the parade.

This year's parade marshal was retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station.

Thursday’s Sneak-a-Peak, the Stampede’s unofficial opener, drew 26,886 people on a rainy and windy night, down about 12,000 from last year.

The 101st annual Calgary Stampede runs from July 5 to 14.

This year’s slogan is Hell or High Water, a reference to the city’s determination to go ahead with its signature event despite the devastation caused to the city — including the Stampede grounds — by last month’s floods.

"The spirit of the citizens and volunteers of Calgary and the Calgary Stampede cannot be washed away — the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth will go on — the spirit of our community cannot be washed away!" a statement on the Stampede website reads.

For many who lined Calgary's downtown streets today, this Stampede has become symbolic of the city's resilience and determination.

First responders — including soldiers, firefighters and search and rescue workers — got standing ovations and emotional applause as they took part in the parade.