Stratford, Ont., swan parade draws thousands for spring tradition
The parade marks the return of the swans to Lake Victoria after the winter
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.
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."
"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.