September 27, 2020

BY STEPHANIE LEFEBVRE

Despite a chilly 8 C morning, 200,000 people lined King Street, lawn chairs and blankets in hand, to see the 44th Oktoberfest parade.

On Oct. 8, the parade started in Waterloo at Erb Street and continued down King Street to Madison Avenue.

Featuring bands, sponsors and organizations, the parade took just under two hours to make its way down King.

As the floats moved along, spectators were invited to vote via text for their favourite one. Just like last year, when the float was first introduced, the Stag Shop Pirate Ship float won People’s Choice Award.

This year, the Canadian Pickers, from the show on History Channel, were the grand marshals and said they were excited about it.

Two days before the parade, they said they loved Oktoberfest so far.

“I haven’t been before,” said Sheldon Smithens. “But I’d sure come back. I love it.”

The two antiques collectors were also given the honour of tapping the opening ceremony’s keg.

“Apparently I’m the first one to drink from the spigot onstage,” said Scott Cozens.

Cozens and Smithens got to ride in a white pickup truck during the parade, a good choice for two western guys.

According to Eric Scheffler, vice-chair of the parade, the day went smoothly.

“The parade went very well,” he said. “The grand marshals were a big hit with the crowd.”

Still, the parade had a few glitches. The Old Lady in Her Shoe float had some mechanical issues which resulted in some spewing smoke and the Pirate Ship float had to be towed through the last section of the parade.

“It was business as usual,” said Scheffler.

Though they had to be up at the parade warehouse at 4 a.m., the volunteers were in high spirits throughout the day.

Chris Heimpel, one volunteer, said it was difficult being one of the last floats in the parade, especially with a bunch of kids participating.

Heimpel said she was tired, it was cold and the children were getting antsy to get moving.

Overall, the crowd was enthusiastic and joined in to sing with the bands, clap for the veterans and cheer on the juggler.

The parade judges, Taylor Jones, Kim Kulger, Carrie Olver and Dave Sopha, voted and gave the first place Festival Award to The Old Lady in Her Shoe, sponsored by Polyurethane Foam Systems for best visual appeal. The Pirate Ship, sponsored by the Stag Shop received the Harvest Award, the second-place award for visual appeal.