The harvest was bountiful at this year’s Niagara Falls Grape and Wine Grand Parade.
Thousands of people from all over the world gathered in downtown St. Catharines on Saturday afternoon for a two-hour spectacle of music, mascots and the purple fruit celebrated by wine-drinkers everywhere.
“It was amazing. All the high schools participating, it was really good,” spectator Willow Huard said after the floats had passed.
“The floats that the high schools prepared, a lot of work went into them. It’s really good to see all the kids out… Grape and Wine is always the same, but it gets better every year for me.”
Highschool, veterans, public figures and sports organizations from across Niagara participated in the parade, which went through the downtown core of St. Catharines for 3.7 kilometers.
Parade watchers also got their fill of marching bands, cultural dances and political figures, such as St. Catharines mayor, Walter Sendzik.
Despite the Grape and Wine Festival being a celebration of an alcoholic beverage, the Grand Parade offers a variety of entertaining floats for all ages. Parade watcher Cameron Abbs, 8, thought the parade was “great.”
“I liked the different kinds of instruments and all the singing. All the cars and the mascots… I think my favourite was Bones,” Cameron said of the parade and the Ice Dogs’ mascot.
The Grape and Wine festival attracts over 100,000 people to the area annually. Returnees to the Grand Parade know what to expect when it comes to the regions largest celebration of the autumn season.
But, this year’s parade was not only a smash hit with music and mascots. The parade was partnered with Canada150, in celebration of our nation’s 150th birthday.
Yvette Eckmire comes back to the parade almost every year. She said she liked the Governor Simcoe float the most and enjoys when the people on the floats are having a great time.
“Just the energy, lots of people, lots of music,” Eckmire said. “I think it was about the same as every other parade, it’s good every year we go.”
Matthew Ward has been to the Parade every year for the last 30 years. He enjoys the bands and togetherness people share for the love of wine.
“It’s a great festival. Everybody gets out and has fun, enjoys each other’s company.”
The parade was also used for public discourse as two organizations – Walk a Mile in Shoes and Justice for Migrant Workers – passed floats through the march.
Justice for Migrant Workers has often submitted floats into the Grape and Wine Grand Parade to inform people of the injustices of the wine industry.