Francesca* and I went to the Pride Parade in Victoria yesterday. I was really impressed at the awesome party the organizers and paraders put on. (Paraders? Is that a word? How do you describe the people who were marching/riding in the parade?) It was a fun, colourful, noisy, boisterous party. The booths and beer garden at Macdonald Park in James Bay were a lot of fun as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera, so I don’t have photos to share.
City-wise, I was impressed at how well the parade itself worked. I observed several odd traffic and crowd control incidents, and was impressed by how well Victorians responded to them. I watched the parade from Menzies and Belleville, as illustrated here:
Before the parade arrived where I was watching from, a police officer on a motorcycle came and set up in the intersection, and began directing traffic. A few minutes later, another motorcycle officer came and directed the first one to move his motorcycle to a position in the intersection that would be better for following the parade once it had completely passed. A few minutes later, after the second officer had left, the first part of the parade came; there was a big gap between the first few groups/floats and the second part, so the police officer who was directing traffic followed the first part of the parade up Menzies. That left nobody directing traffic, so when a five-ton delivery truck approached the intersection, the driver looked frustrated at a large group of people blocking his path and no direction about what to do. Since the second part of the parade hadn’t arrived yet, he beeped his horn and the crowd parted; he went on his way, following the first part of the parade without any apparent problem. About five other cars got backed up behind the crowd watching the parade from where I was, before valet parking attendants at the Hotel Grand Pacific further up Belleville started directing traffic to turn around before getting stuck.
In both cases (the five-ton and the valets-cum-traffic-directors), I was impressed at how Victorians reacted to unexpected traffic conditions. The five-ton driver was allowed to go on at an appropriate moment to complete his deliveries, and the parking valets stepped in to provide a valuable service to motorists who would have been otherwise unaware of backed up traffic further down the road.
I was also surprised, when following the final float of the parade, to find that on-street parking was still allowed along Kingston and Oswego. In a similar situation, other cities might have closed down on-street parking for a special event like this, to accommodate large crowds and large parade vehicles. Again, I was impressed that Victoria did not inconvenience local residents by closing down largely resident only parking on those streets, instead opting to encourage the crowd to go around the vehicles.
I was also impressed that there were no parade marshals evident along the route or with the floats, to do crowd control or assist people. Victorians apparently know how to respond to large public events politely. It reaffirms my faith in our public realm.
Overheard at the parade:
- Several people, presumably Americans, saying that “it must be a July 4th parade!”
- One person, as First Unitarian & Esquimalt Churches marched by, “Don’t worry, honey, it’s just a church parade.”
Also, Tamales are good.
*Not her real name.