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City of Calgary, Stampede ready for a safe Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth

When the Calgary Stampede opens for sneak-a-peek on Thursday and invites hundreds of thousands into the Downtown Core for the Stampede Parade on Friday, it will be because of the incredible logistics machine that makes the Stampede happen.

While hundreds of park employees will be on hand to make this year’s experience as great and as entertaining as possible, a veritable army of public safety staff will be there to ensure every guest has the safest experience possible.

“The Calgary Stampede has always been about bringing our community and our visitors together in celebration, and it starts with providing a safe place for them to have fun with their friends and families,” said Kerrie Blizard, Director of Public Safety and Environment with the Calgary Stampede.

The Stampede, along with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, Calgary’s Public Vehicle Standards Division, Calgary Fire Department, EMS, and the Calgary Police Service provided updates prior to the start of the 10-day festival on how safety is being handled this year.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry said extensive planning has been done to ensure the safest possible Stampede.

“10 years ago, we were determining if we’d be able to hold the Stampede after the southern Alberta floods. The Stampede, our agency members, and Calgarians displayed great resiliency, courage and perseverance and declared that the Greatest Outdoor Show must go on,” Henry said.

“Everyone moved heaven, and literally earth, to make sure the Stampede was a go.”

She said that this year on that anniversary the weather forecast is much better and that Calgarians should be more prepared for heat on the grounds.

“July in Calgary can also be very hot. If you’re hitting the parade route or down at the grounds, please stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you’ve already waited too long,” Henry said.

Blizard said that this year the Stampede has more air-conditioned indoor venues available for visitors, which include the BMO Centre’s exhibition halls, and the Big Four Building’s food hall basement and upstairs free concert venue.

Set up continues on the Calgary Stampede grounds, as viewed from the Big Four Building on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

On-park safety begins at the gates

A top reminder from the Calgary Stampede safety team is that metal detectors and detector wands will be used at all entrances, along with mandatory bag searches.

“We have a number of measures in place to ensure people are safe when they set foot on to stampede Park, and these measures will be familiar to those who have attended stampede in the past,” said Blizard.

“We know no one likes waiting in a line, so we’re asking the public to help us keep guests moving quickly through the bag search area. The best way to do this is with a simple rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t bring something onto an airplane, please don’t bring it to Stampede Park.”

She said that the Stampede will be searching for prohibited items like alcohol and weapons, which include pocket knives.

The Calgary Police Service said they are ready to do their part to keep visitors safe.

“Large events can be challenged for the police, but our service is very used to planning for the Stampede. Every year we make sure that we have the right resources in place, including this year,” said CPS Superintendent Joe Brar.

“As in previous years, we will have a highly visible police presence both along the parade route and at stampede Park.”

LiveWire Calgary previously reported that the Calgary Police Service is planning for 300,000 people to attend the Stampede parade, and for 1.5 million visitors to attend the Stampede.

During the 10 days of the Stampede, the grounds become CPS District 9, with officers from throughout other districts in the city temporarily assigned to the Stampede.

Supt. Brar said that visitors to the park can help keep it a safe Stampede for everyone by reporting suspicious or dangerous behaviour.

“Listen to your gut, watch for any unusual situations or items, and notice if there’s somebody acting abnormally,” he said.

CTrain service moves to 24 hours starting July 6

Chief Aaron Coon with the City of Calgary’s Public Vehicle Standards Division, which oversees Calgary Transit peace officers, said that the CTrain would be moving to 24-hour service with the start of the Stampede.

“During Stampede, you’ll see an increased presence of our security staff to ensure that we’re managing crowds and people are able to get to and from Stampede safely,” he said.

Chief Coon said that the city has also hired additional security staff for the duration, and will be stepping up combined peace and police officer patrols throughout the Calgary Transit system.

Transit officers will be stationed 24 hours per day at the Victoria Park Station and the Erlton Station.

“If you’re looking for help, or to find your way, or you see an issue, please look for one of our officers or an ambassador or security officer and raise your concern with them,” Coon said.

“A reminder that if you see something that concerns you, you can discreetly text us at 74100, or access our dispatch services through the help buttons located on the trains the platforms and our Max Purple lines.”

He said that for visitors looking to use ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, there will be designated locations near Victoria Park station.

Between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. location will be at 10 Avenue SE between 1 Street SE and Olympic Way SE, and at 1 Street SE between 10 Avenue SE. and 12 Avenue SE.

Locations will also be available 24 hours per day at 14 Avenue SW between Stampede Trail SW and 5 Street SW, and at the south side of Stampede Park, north of 25 Avenue SE.

Taxis can also be found at the 24-hour locations, in addition to 12 Avenue SW between 1 Street SE and 3 Street SE between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.