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1st-ever Saskatoon Sikh Parade was so busy it spurred a traffic advisory

Police estimated the first-ever Sikh parade in Saskatoon drew a crowd of 7,000 people, causing traffic delays in the Willowgrove and Evergreen areas on Saturday.

'I never saw this many people before,' says attendee; police estimate crowd of 7,000

Police estimated a crowd of 7,000 people at Saskatoon's first Sikh parade on Saturday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

Police estimated the first-ever Sikh parade in Saskatoon drew a crowd of 7,000 people, causing traffic delays in the Willowgrove and Evergreen areas on Saturday.

The Saskatoon Police Service asked drivers to avoid the area until about 4 p.m. CST Saturday afternoon, while large numbers of people were travelling the parade route.

The Sikh Society of Saskatchewan said in a news release prior to the event it was expecting between 2,000 and 3,000 people to attend.

Some attendees were surprised but delighted that the turnout appeared to be at least double that. 

"I never saw this many people before," said Inderpal Singh, who was attending with his wife and son.

"It's amazing, actually, getting to see all of them all together, and you know, we are celebrating for the first time in Saskatoon."

'I've never seen so many people before,' said Inderpal Singh, left, of the turnout Saturday. Attending with him were his son, Ekam Janjua, and his wife, Jyoti Devi. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

"It's really great and it feels very warm, very comfortable," said Avneet Singh, who was passing out pamphlets with information about the parade, known as a Nagar Kirtan procession.

"I see that the community is growing and spreading."

Curious spectator Ann Schellenberg, left, is invited by a parade volunteer to enjoy some food. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News )

The parade route, which began at the Sikh Temple on Lowe Road, had been approved by the City of Saskatoon and Saskatoon police.

The procession was scheduled to travel down Nelson Road, Addison Road, Stenstrud Road and Willowgrove Boulevard before continuing westbound on Attridge Drive to Lowe Road and back to Nelson Road.

Members of the traffic enforcement unit tried to move the parade along while allowing traffic to pass safely, said police. 

The parade route for Saturday's event in Saskatoon. (Submitted)
A group of visiting students from Baba Fateh Singh Gurmat Academy in Edmonton demonstrated gatka martial arts before the parade got underway at around 10:45 a.m.
Participants later joined in chanting during the parade. 

"We generally have a lot of religious festivals during the year but this is a kind of special event," said Malvinder Hansra, a member of the parade organizing committee.

He estimated Saskatoon's Sikh population at about 2,500, including 600 to 700 families.

Some of the parade participants Saturday came from parts of Alberta and Regina, volunteers said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Malvinder Hansra as the president of the Sikh Society of Saskatoon. In fact, Hansra was a member of the parade organizing committee.
    May 29, 2017 3:51 PM CT