Stratford, Ont., swan parade draws thousands for spring tradition

Thousands of people gathered along the waterfront in Stratford on Sunday for the city's annual swan parade, marking the return of the iconic white birds to Lake Victoria.

The parade marks the return of the swans to Lake Victoria after the winter

Thousands of people lined Lakeside Drive in Stratford, Ont., as the city's swans were led to their seasonal home on Victoria Lake. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

Thousands of people gathered along the waterfront in Stratford, Ont., on Sunday for the city's annual swan parade.

The iconic white birds have been raised in Stratford since 1918. The parade marks their return to Lake Victoria in the spring, after spending the colder months in their winter quarters behind the William Allman Arena.

The swans waddled down Lakeside Drive, led by the Stratford Police Service pipes and drums band, before making their way into the water.

In the colder months, the swans live in their winter quarters behind the William Allman Arena. They are led back to the lake for the spring and summer during the annual parade. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

William Pavlov traveled all the way from Bay City, Mich., just to see the birds return to their seasonal habitat. This was his fourth year attending the parade.

"The first year I came, I was beyond surprised at all the pageantry and festivities and everything," he said. "So I made it an annual tradition to come out and see it, and it is something special."

William Pavlov watches as the swans explore the lake for the first time this year. He made the trip from Bay City, Mich., and calls the parade a 'rite of spring.' (Robin De Angelis/CBC)

"To see [the swans] so excited about making this trek, what I call the rite of spring, into the water, I think there's nothing more beautiful," Pavlov said.

The swans will spend the next several months on the lake, before returning to their winter quarters in November.

These seven real-life sisters decided to go all out for their first swan parade and dressed up for the occasion. They plan on making it an annual tradition — costumes included. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)
After the excitement of the parade has died down, the swans will spend the spring and summer on Lake Victoria and the Avon river. The birds will return to their winter quarters in November, before the lake freezes over. (Robin De Angelis/CBC)


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