Pandemic Parades Take to the Streets

Summer is generally the time for two major parades in Dawson: Canada Day in July and Discovery Day in August. The latter is the larger of the two events, but neither one takes any longer than 15 or 20 minutes to pass any given vantage point.

COVID-19 meant that the first of those parades could not be held, and it seems likely that we won’t be back to anything like normal by the middle of August. But, if Klondike ingenuity holds strong, there just might be a backup plan. Since April we have had four parades here, keeping pretty well to the “safe six” suggestions being promoted by the government at its regular online briefings and text summaries. 

These have been vehicle parades. 

The first was set up to honour essential workers, medical staff, EMS crews, RCMP, retail workers, and other people who have been engaging in potentially risky regular interactions with the public in order to make life as normal as possible for the rest of us. 

The participants in this one were mostly private individuals who had decorated their cars and trucks with signs full of praise and encouragement, as well as balloons. Of course, there were fire trucks. No Dawson parade would be complete without them. This, to some extent, set the pattern for the parades to follow. 

Getting around town has been a bit tricky for the last two summers, as several of our streets have been closed while sewer and water upgrades are being installed. Clear routes can change from week to week and sometimes from day to day. 

Maps of the parade routes were distributed in advance on social media, so the public would know where to look, but the best part of the planning was that the parades managed to hit nearly every driveable street in town and go past most residences, so you didn’t really need to leave home at all. 

The honking of horns and peeling of sirens, mixed with the howling of dogs to help the public keep track of just where the parade’s progress had taken it.

The lack of the usual school events associated with the end of the academic year prompted the staff of the Robert Service School to organize their own parade in honour of the Graduating Class, following much the same protocols as I have described, but with school related themes.

A few days later, the grads and their families staged a similar parade, but this time the students, fully gowned and standing in pairs in the backs of pick-up trucks with their names displayed on signs, were themselves the main decoration.

In each case, the convoy was joined by fire trucks, RCMP cruisers, EMS ambulances and other vehicles. Fifteen or more entries took the better part of an hour to wend their way around the available streets.

The most recent parade was part of the virtual Canada Day celebrations that tried to make up for the lack of actual events this year. This one was made up of emergency response vehicles, including the fire departments, RCMP, EMS, Wildland Fire, Dawson Bylaw, and the Rangers and Junior Rangers.

I’m expecting that something similar may happen over the Discovery Day weekend.

A Parade of Dreams

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