Skip to content

Rainmaker Parade rolls in reverse this weekend

Community rallies to create Pride delegation

Horsemen, Jeeps, and rainbow flags will participate this weekend as the Rainmaker Festival Parade returns to downtown St. Albert.

Some 10,000 people will line the streets of downtown St. Albert this May 25 for the 2024 Rainmaker Festival Parade. Guests will get to cheer on various community groups as they express their civic pride, and (if previous years are any indication) should expect to see clowns, candy, classic cars, and a vehicle-mounted flamethrower.

Some 96 groups representing about 1,000 people had signed up to march in the parade as of May 17, said parade organizer Dave MacGillivray, including 10 marching bands. The Lord Strathcona’s Horse will be there with their horses and shiny helmets, as will a convoy of vintage military vehicles organized by St. Albert military historian Reg Hodgson.

MacGillivray said parade organizers tried to step up the cultural representation in this year’s parade by reaching out to various cultural groups. Enoch Cree Nation responded, and will have a large contingent of riders, powwow dancers, and other dignitaries in the parade. Also participating are the African and African Descendant Friendship Club of St. Albert and the Portuguese Cultural Centre of Edmonton.

“This is the first time we’ve had participation from any First Nation in the parade itself,” MacGillivray said, and he was looking forward to seeing them.

Reverse march

While parade participants usually muster along Muir Drive and march from the St. Albert Parish to the St. Albert Curling Club, that’s impossible this year, as Muir Dr. is playing host to the St. Albert Centre bus exchange, MacGillivray said. (The exchange has temporarily relocated because of water line construction.)

Instead, this year’s parade will run backwards. Participants will start at the curling club, and proceed along Sir Winston Churchill Ave., St. Anne St., Perron Street, Mission Ave., and Mill Drive before stopping at the parish on St. Vital Ave.

MacGillivray said all streets involved with the parade will be closed from 7 a.m. to noon on May 24, and advised drivers to plan accordingly.

Visit for a map of the parade route.

Pride arises

New to the parade this year is a Pride delegation organized in the wake of the end of Outloud St. Albert. A popular support group for 2SLGBTQI+ parents and youths in and around St. Albert, Outloud was a regular participant in the Rainmaker parade before it closed its doors on May 3.

St. Albert resident and past Outloud volunteer Lise Alary said she was shocked when the closure was announced.

“My immediate reaction was where does this leave the staff? Where does this leave the families and youth who rely on the service?”

Speaking with peers who children attended Outloud and had their summer hopes dashed by its closure, Alary said she decided to rally her contacts in the queer community to assemble a Pride delegation for this year’s parade.

“We want the queer kids to know that even though [Outloud] is gone there’s still a community, there’s still support, there’s still people out there that want to create safe spaces.”

Alary said she hoped to get at least a dozen parents and youths flying Pride flags and other decorations for the parade.

“At this point it’s just an entry in a parade,” she said, but there’s a lot of talk among group organizers of building some sort of community alliance to support the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“There’s a lot of adults and allies in the community that care, and we are going to step up for these kids.”

Parade participant Elizabeth Wilkie said her nine-year-old genderfluid child Opsahl and was deeply saddened when Outloud closed, as they had marched with the group in previous Rainmaker parades. Wilkie said Opsahl ran around the living room screaming with joy when she told them about this parade initiative.

“We’re getting our rainbow tutus and rainbow hats ready,” Wilkie said, and counting the days on the calendar leading up to the parade.

Questions on the Pride delegation should go to [email protected].

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks