BY JAMES WELLS
Now to be clear, it’s not just a flock of birds, they’re swans, and they are very important to the city of Stratford.
On April 2, Stratford celebrated its annual swan parade as part of its yearly Salute to Spring. With the parade entering its 27th year, there were approximately 5,000 people in attendance, including two newcomers, Bob and Judy Oakley. The two had recently moved from Mississauga to Stratford in order to be closer to family. As first-timers, seeing a whole day dedicated to the city’s swans was a little humorous to them at first, but with the festivities proceeding throughout the day, they began to enjoy it.
“It was alright, it looked as if the swans were trying to take off at one point heading into the water,” said Bob, as he chuckled at the thought.
“It was very interesting, I certainly enjoyed it for my first time,” said Judy.
Before the inevitable march of the swans took place mid-afternoon, attendees were occupied by several different vendors, food trucks and a fun display of the comedic and juggling arts. The host and star of the show was Craig Douglas, a professional comedian and juggler, whose shows have taken him all over the world.
After lots of laughs and impressive juggling techniques that kept families amazed for approximately an hour, faint sounds of bagpipes began to soar above the buzz of the crowd, enticing those with an ear for the pipe to wander over to listen to the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums band.
The band kept the crowd entertained with a variety of songs for a good 45 minutes, enticing a large crowd to gather round. They played as the swans began their march to the Avon River.
With a warm and beautiful spring day to greet them, the swans exited their winter habitat, ready and eager to wet their beaks.
Shouts, cheers and thunderous applause greeted the swans, as the band lead the march down Morenz Drive, past the William Allman Memorial Arena, onto Lakeside Drive and finished off with a splash, as the swans took off in high spirits across the water of the Avon.