​​Thousands turn out for Cloverdale Rodeo Parade

Organizer says parade still a ‘success’ despite weather and lower-than-normal attendance

The Cloverdale Rodeo Parade returned May 18 and thousands attended the long-standing event.

It was the parade’s second running a row after three consecutive cancellations followed Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair cancellations.

“We had fewer floats than last year and the route was shortened,” said Paul Orazietti, the parade organizer. “So, in doing all of that, the crowds were down, but we’re still in a recovery mode after missing so many years. So I would still say it was a success despite some outside contributing factors.”

Orazietti, the executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, said even though parade numbers were down, it certainly fell on the positive side of event attendance. He noted the Cloverdale Rodeo Parade still has the highest number of attendees of any single event over Rodeo Weekend.

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“Of all things, the weather probably affected the parade the most,” he said. “Generally, it was like a scene out of Ghostbusters. All those big black clouds could be seen in the sky.”

Weather aside, Orazietti noted many parades are hurting this year, including Cloverdale. He’s heard from other parade organizers around the Lower Mainland and they are all witnessing shorter parades and fewer entrants. Cost being a big factor.

“It was the smallest parade we’ve done in 20 years,” he added. “It’s a sign of the times. The parade route got shortened and it just sets a smaller stage. And then the stage got rained on.”

The parade is one of Cloverdale’s longest running events, stretching back to the first Cloverdale Rodeo in the mid-1940s.

Orazietti said this year offered a swan song of sorts for the old parader. He’s been organizing the rodeo parade for numerous years. He feels it’s now time for him to step aside and let some new people take over with new ideas so as to renew and reinvigorate the 76-year-old annual event.

“There’s a super-desperate need for new blood,” he explained. “I think there’s a desperate need to put more of a Cloverdale spin on the parade too. Parades are supposed to be a celebration. We need to figure out how to reinvent the rodeo parade so it’s relevant again.”

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He cautioned that the spirit of the parade is not dead. It remains alive and there are hard-core groups of float entrants and parade-goers who come out every year, but he wants that to expand and involve even more people from around Cloverdale, Surrey, and Langley.

“I don’t have an answer for the rodeo parade, myself,” he said. “We need to have a new team. We have to get some synergy going. And we need money.”

As such, he’s going to resign as Cloverdale Rodeo Parade organizer. He thinks some younger minds will benefit the parade more than he can by “hanging on” for another few years.

He added the volunteers are the most important part of the parade, without which the parade would not even get out of the gate. He said the parade “really relies heavily” on them.

“If it wasn’t for all of the volunteers, quite frankly, events like this wouldn’t happen,” he noted. “But we need new people. It’s still all the same old people (volunteering).”

He said the Cloverdale Rodeo Parade has been blessed by having a number of highly motivated volunteers over the years, but he said it’s time to strike a proper committee to revitalize it.

“We must build a team that can take this to the next level,” he explained.

Orazietti added that he wanted to give a “special shout out” to all who helped with this year’s event.

“The Surrey Association of Community Living helped assemble No Parking signs, helped to distribute some other signs, they also distributed residents’ letters,” he said.

The Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce was very involved too.

“They bailed me out. They got more people to help and offered more help on signage and stuff. When you look at it. It wouldn’t happen without these people.”

He also said the B.C. Vintage Truck Museum deserved special kudos.

“Many groups had a hand in helping and I thank them all.”

He said the parade highlight for him this year, as it always is, was just seeing the smiling faces of the event attendees.

“The best part of the parade is the people,” he said. “The smiles are what counts.

“I just want to thank all the people who came out to watch and all those who came out to help.”

Malin Jordan

About the Author: Malin Jordan

Malin is the editor of the Townmillbrewery.
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