More than 500K expected at Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade

Surrey, B.C., is preparing for a massive influx of visitors for Saturday’s annual Vaisakhi parade.

It is one of the largest Vaisakhi celebrations in the world, outside of India, with more than 500,000 attending the event in years past.

Organizers are expecting more than 500,000 attendees again this year.

Vaisakhi dates back to 1699 and celebrates the revelation of the Khalsa, which refers to the community that considers Sikhism its faith.

It has become a holy day to mark the birth of the Khalsa fraternity.

A number of roads will be closed in Surrey due to the parade.

On Friday, curb lane closures will be implemented along 128 Street from 76 Avenue to 87 Avenue starting at noon and will remain in place overnight into Saturday.

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On Saturday, full closures will be in effect from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on:

  • 128 Street, from 72 to 88 avenues
  • 75 and 76 avenues, from 124 to 128 streets
  • 124 Street, from 75 to 82 avenues
  • 82 Avenue, from 124 Street to 128 Street

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar on 85 Avenue and will end at the gurdwara at 4 p.m.

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Local residents do not need a permit to pass through the closed area but will need to show identification.

Vendors will be offering free food, music and festivities along the parade route, and due to heavy foot traffic, organizers encourage all attendees to walk in the festival area.

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There is no parking in the area of the event.

Surrey RCMP is encouraging those who want to attend to consider walking or cycling to the celebration.

“It is our honour to be part of Vaisakhi Parade (Nagar Kirtan) as we work with our partners in the community to keep this event safe for everyone and be part of the parade,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Sarbjit Sangha said.

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“Having a plan in place with your family and friends prior to the event can be very helpful to ensure everyone stays safe throughout the celebration. With the large crowds, it can be easy for people to become separated from their group.”

During past Vaisakhi parades, Surrey RCMP said officers have had to deal with dozens of incidents of missing children and seniors. The department is offering some advice to minimize any further incidents.

A safety plan should include the following:

  • Take a family photo before you leave the house, this will help in locating them if needed;
  • Familiarize your family members with their surroundings and have a pre-planned meeting place;
  • Equip your family members with some form of identification and your contact information;
  • Keep a current photo of your child on you in case you need to describe them to police;
  • Keep your children within eyesight at all times;
  • If a family member goes missing, notify the nearest police officer;
  • If you live in the area that has been closed to traffic, please have your driver’s license with current address to provide to police at check points in order to get to your residence.

Organizers said the event welcomes people of all cultures and communities to come together in the communal gathering of “understanding, sharing, and goodwill.”

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