Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade draws 300,000 for ‘a beautiful day and a beautiful time’

NEWTON — It seems Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade grows bigger and better every year, with a whopping 300,000 people gathering in Newton’s streets on Saturday.

"It feels really good to know the community in general is coming out," spokesperson Moninder Singh told the Now. "That’s what we’ve wanted for years now, to grow it into a more community-based event. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful time."

In future years, Singh said there is talk of holding events in several neighbourhoods during the week before Vaisakhi.

Vaisakhi
Martial arts students from the Sikh Academy showed off their chakari skills, demonstrating the South Asian form of combat training known as gatka. (Photo: JACOB ZINN)

"So the idea would be to have each section of Surrey – Guildford, Fleetwood, Whalley, South Surrey… outside the Newton area where the parade takes place," he explained. "We would hold events that showcase what the whole week means and what this day means."

Each April, Vaisakhi marks the Punjabi new year, as well as the establishment of the Khalsa.

The parade featured more than a dozen floats from such groups as the Khalsa School, Sikh Academy, Guru Angad Dev Elementary School and the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as riders from the Sikh Motorcycle Club.

Entertainment included demonstrations of the South Asian martial art gatka, live music and traditional dances. The route was lined with food tents and performance stages, providing hours of things to do and see throughout the day.

The parade started at the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, heading south on 128th Street, west on 82nd Avenue, south on 124th Street, east on 75th Avenue (which turns into 76nd) and north on 128th back to the temple.

Mayor Linda Hepner was on hand for the celebration, as were councillors Mary Martin and Mike Starchuk. Many other local politicians turned out for the festivities, including Liberal MLAs Amrik Virk, Peter Fassbender, Marvin Hunt, Gordon Hogg and Scott Hamilton, and NDP MLAs Harry Bains, Sue Hammell and Jinny Sims, as well as NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu.

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan also attended Surrey’s 15th annual Vaisakhi parade.

Last year, the parade drew roughly 250,000 people. (Click here for photos from 2014)

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