Feature Story                                                                             Wednesday September 12, 2012


A Parade With Panache

The 44th Annual Hope Brigade Days encompasses the entire town

Staff/Voice photos


Ladies from the Fraser Canyon Hospice Society enjoy a ride in their float which took first place.


or two days last weekend Hope, BC residents had a chance to share in some civic pride during the 44th Annual Brigade Days which opened with a community parade Saturday.


Everyone loves a small town parade. Chilliwack has its Santa Claus Parade, Yarrow has its Yarrow Days Parade and even Cultus Lake had one to kick-off summer. They're a huge part of the fabric of Canadian life, weaving through communities, stitching neighbourhoods together.


Right off the bat, the ladies from Fraser Canyon Hospice Society won first prize for their decorated vintage Ford Cougar and mounted the trophy on the car's hood prior to the start.

Mayor Susan Johnson, who was clad in beautiful blue period costume, and MLA Gwen O'Mahony were having an apparent blast as Parade Marshalls in the beautiful white Chevrolet Camaro convertible.

As mayor, this is one day when sewers and roads aren't on Johnson's agenda.

She told The Voice prior to the parade she was having an "amazing day".

"We look forward to this all year long, from the time it ends this year 'til the time it ends next year," she said. "This is our 44th Annual Hope Brigade Days and next year is our 45th and that's going to be a huge, huge event."

Chilliwack paramedic Gilbert Deschnes drives his ambulance in the parade Saturday.

"It is a great family day, and its part of my duties to be out here enjoying it and I love duties that involve fun. This is the best part of the job, it's amazing."

Dennis Adamson, FVRD Director Electoral Area B, was also in period costume, posing as a rugged Hudson Bay fur trader and said that he had a bit part in Fool's Gold, a play by the Hope Performing Community Theatre at the local Legion.

People purchase a "Briggie Button" for $12 which is their passport to a great time that includes a truckload of activities and mini-events held at different venues strewn throughout the city. From dunk tanks and rides, to plays and music and even fireworks, there was something for everyone.

Diana Kropp, Brigade Days organizer, took a moment out of her busy morning to say that it was all about fun.

"We're going to have a lot of fun today with trade shows and demo derby's and we should have a great turnout for the parade," she said looking at the long line of floats.

Kropp figures about 1000 people line the streets for the parade. "Everybody's grabbing their chairs, their water and their suntan lotion."

She was joining the parade as well the good old fashioned way.

"I'm going to be hoofing it today. I've got a couple of hoofers on the bottom of my feet."

A regular in local parades, and a family favourite, is the mini ambulance which was lovingly constructed by Chilliwack paramedic Gilbert Deschnes.

Deschnes originally built the min ambulance because he wanted to soften their image with kids.

"I made this parade ambulance up to put smiles on kids faces because they always see us in their dire need."

Deschnes took an old 12 H.P. lawnmower and removed the rusted blade, then built the body and put it into active service as a parade ambulance. The motor has two separate lighting systems including a charging system on it.

It's a 12 H.P. lawn mower and used to have a 39" cutting blade on it.

The cutter was all rusted so I just dropped it and prepped it all up as a parade ambulance. It has an external battery, for all the extra lights, like when its in the Santa parade.

"I finished building it in June 2011. It took me 3-months to make up and the number on it is the 10th Anniversary of 9-11 so that's why its numbers 62011"

For more information on next year's event, visit www.hopebrigadedays.com

See more photos below.

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