British Columbia

Up to 400K people expected to attend 2017 Surrey Vaisakhi parade

About 400,000 people are expected to attend the annual Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C., today — about 50,000 people more than last year's record-setting attendance.

City of Surrey says to expect road closures, restricted access and parking, and traffic disruptions

The Sikh celebrations around Vaisakhi mark the annual harvest festival and commemorates the establishment of the Khalsa. (Lien Yeung/CBC)

Up to 400,000 people are expected to attend the annual Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C., today — even more than last year's record-setting attendance.

The celebration marks the birth of the Sikh faith, the creation of the Khalsa and pays tribute to the beginning of the Punjabi harvest. It's one of the most significant dates in the year for Sikhs.

Parades and festivities with elaborate floats, fresh food and live music usually draw thousands of spectators.

"I think it's one of those festive times when people come out regardless of the weather," said event organizer Moninder Singh.

Sleep-deprived organizers have been working on rotating shifts for the past week, Singh said, adding that the effort was worth it. 

Moninder Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar in Surrey, says he wanted to ensure the event aligned with what's best for the community during the pandemic. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The parade will start at Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar — located on 85th Avenue — around 9 a.m. PT and end in the same place around 6 p.m. 

The City of Surrey said there will be road closures and traffic disruptions as well as restricted access and parking. Traffic control will be in place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Last year's festivities broke a record in Surrey, attracting more than 350,000 people — making it one of the largest celebrations outside of India.

See the full parade route below.

The parade route is marked in red, while the area affected by road closures is in yellow. (City of Surrey)

Surrey RCMP recommend parents take a photo of their children before arriving at the parade, and put a phone number and address in their pocket. 

"Every year we get a few children that get away from their parents," said Const. Charanjit Marjara.

"Usually it doesn't take too long to reunite the family, but those are some of the tips we can give out." 

This year, event organizers are also asking participants to refrain from releasing helium balloons in the air. Singh said because of the size of the event, the balloons pose a risk for flight safety. 

They're also reminding attendees that the event is a drone-free space because of the potential harm they pose for those below. 

Last year, stunning footage of the parade was captured by drone

Finishing touches are added to a float for the 2017 Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

$10K floats

Singh said the parade route will be lined with tents, many of them offering free food. 

There are also about 20 floats in the parade. Each of them take about three months to prepare and cost about $10,000 to make. 

Each of the floats at the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C., take about three months to build and cost $10,000. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

With files from Tina Lovgreen and Rhianna Schmunk