Vaisakhi parade in Kelowna could draw up to 10,000 people

10,000 for Vaisakhi?

A celebration that dates back thousands of years will bring colour, faith, food and community together in Kelowna this weekend.

The annual Vaisakhi parade will fill the streets of Rutland on Saturday. It’s expected to be the biggest turnout yet.

“A lot of people moved here, and (with) the surrounding towns – Penticton, Vernon etc. – I think we are expecting around 8,000 to 10,000 people,’ said Paramjit Patara, president of the Okanagan Sikh Temple.

2023 was the first year back after three years of cancellations due to the pandemic, and the Vaisakhi parade drew a crowd of approximately 5,000 last year.

City warns of road closures

The City of Kelowna is advising the public of road closures during the parade. Sumac Road, Sycamore Road, Wallace Road and Ortt Road will be restricted to local traffic from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2024. Rolling closures will be in place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Flaggers will be present at all intersections to help direct traffic.

The parade will set out from the temple at 1111 Rutland Road N. around noon. As participants travel through the community, they are asked to not walk across lawns or onto private property, and to not throw garbage into homeowners trash bins.

Garbage and parking provisions

“We will have a garbage truck and people walking with the parade with garbage bags, so please use those instead of using (bins in) driveways,” said community organizer Andy Sandhu.

Parking will be available at Rutland Middle School and Rutland Secondary School. There will be a drop off zone and turn around zone. Patara says pamphlets were also circulated asking residents along the affected roads not to park on the street Saturday.

Patara adds that hundreds of people have been busy preparing food for Vaisakhi, which began as a harvest festival, but is now also one of the most important dates on the Sikh religious calendar. However, the event is for everyone, as city councillor Mohini Singh points out.

“For me, the importance of this day is the coming together of the entire community. Because it draws people from all backgrounds to eat together, to walk together, to celebrate together.

“And that is what Canada is about.”

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