MAP: Surrey Mounties prepared for a Vaisakhi crowd of half a million this Saturday in Newton

Sikh religious event in Surrey one of the largest such events in the world

Surrey Mounties likened Newton’s Vaisakhi Parade to “a large Canadian city without crime” after a record-breaking 350,000 people attended last year’s event.

“No arrests, no crime,” Surrey RCMP told this newspaper in April 2016. “Three hundred and fifty thousand people participated peacefully in this fantastic family community event.”

Surrey’s 19th annual Vaisakhi Parade is this Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This year, Surrey RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann says, police are prepared for crowds of up to half a million people – an incredible number considering the 2016 census puts the city’s population at 517,887.

“No threats have been identified,” Schumann told the Now-Leader. “It is going to be another safe and fun Vaisakhi.”

One of the largest such events in the world outside India, marking the birth of the Sikh religion, it’s also known as the Surrey Khalsa Day Parade. Last year’s featured 19 floats.

Saturday’s parade will begin at Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, at 12855 85th Ave., and run along portions of 128th Street, 76th Avenue, 124th Street and 82nd Avenue.

Expect road closures, and traffic disruptions between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Schumann wouldn’t reveal how many police officers will be dispatched to the parade, but said the police presence will be “significant.”

“We’re prepared for at least 500,000,” he said of potential crowd size. “We have a very robust plan for police officers being dispatched. We’re going to be able to deal with any sort of incident that may transpire.

“A lot of our officers really look forward to working that parade,” Schumann says.

“It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the culture, food and meet people in the community.”

There will also be representatives from Fraser Health and Surrey Bylaws to help everything go smoothly.

Each year businesses and families share free food with parade-goers along the route.

The website surreyvaisakhiparade.com is offering safety tips for attendants. Drones aren’t permitted without a permit from Transport Canada because the parade route is within three kilometres of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s emergency helipad landing platform.

Anyone serving food must have a hand-washing area set up next to where food is being prepared, must wear gloves and wash their hands prior to preparing and serving food.

For a full list of do’s and do-not’s, check out surreyvaisakhiparade.com.

People setting up food stands must not set up tents on the sidewalks along the route, and no helium balloons are allowed as large numbers floating into air traffic space above the parade route poses safety concerns.

tom.zytaruk@ thenownewspaper.com

Surrey Now Leader

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