Calgary Stampede will go ahead 'come hell or high water': president
Published Monday, June 24, 2013 12:26PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 24, 2013 3:48PM EDT
The Calgary Stampede will kick off as planned on July 5 despite a devastating flood that crippled Calgary last week, organizers said Monday.
“We will be hosting the greatest show on Earth come hell or high water,” Stampede president and board chairman Bob Thompson said.
In its 101-year history, the Calgary Stampede has never been cancelled, “despite two wars and the Great Depression,” Thompson said. This year will be no different.
The Stampede grounds and Calgary’s famous Saddledome were flooded late last week, but Thompson said crews have been working hard to pump out “millions of gallons” of water and clear off mud and debris.
“Last year, the theme of our centennial was ‘We are greatest together.’ A year later, this motto could not be more true,” he said.
Calgary Stampede CEO Vern Kimball said organizers are doing “whatever it takes to prepare for July 5.” That means working around the clock to dry all the buildings, the racetrack and the infield, and restore what can be fixed in time, Kimball said.
Kimball also promised to hold the traditional opening parade July 5, though adjustments may need to be made to the route, since the downtown was swamped by floodwaters.
He said some employees and volunteers have worked “36 hours or more straight” to prevent damage to key infrastructure.
“We have been humbled and overwhelmed by the unbelievable number of offers of help from the community to assist us in getting ready for Stampede 101,” he added.
Kimball said Stampede sponsors, municipal and provincial governments have all offered help.
Offers have also been coming in from Toronto, California, Missouri and Texas, he said.
“We were temporarily overwhelmed by the force of nature. Now we are overwhelmed by those asking us how they can help to put on Stampede. We are extremely grateful.”
Some Stampede events, including the parade, may have to be done differently this year, depending on Calgary road closures and other logistical issues.
Nevertheless, Kimball promises a great show.
“Stampede 101 will be a testament to the desire of the community to rally and to come together in the face of adversity,” he said.