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SAIT Alumnus John Dumonceaux loves a parade, specifically the Calgary Stampede Parade. Dumonceaux, BA ’94, has been a volunteer with the event for the past 27 years.
“I have always been a fan of the parade especially because it kicks off the Stampede week. I love everything about it, particularly the pipe bands,” John says with a smile.
He started out as a parade street marshal, a position he held for 20 years. His ‘territory’ was near the head of parade route where his responsibility was to maintain a safe distance between the audience and the horses.
“As a marshal, my job was to keep people’s bums on the curb and the horses on the street,” says Dumonceaux. “I worked the first block of the parade where I’d shoo kids, and sometimes moms and dads, off the parade route and back onto the sidewalk. I’d also keep an eye on the horses. When horses get skittish, it’s usually at the start.
“All of them are pretty tame,” adds Dumonceaux, “but sometimes an inexperienced rider doesn’t know how to work with a horse and the animal will go off course. The job of a marshal is to grab the reigns and redirect the horse back into a straight line.” He says he only had to guide the horses about a dozen times over his time as street marshal.
The parade is a big family event says Dumonceaux, so it’s fitting that he started out as a volunteer because of his father. “My dad signed up as a street marshal shortly after my parents moved to Calgary in the early 70s. He worked for United Grain Growers and he volunteered along with his coworkers. I was eventually offered a job and signed on too. That’s how it started.”
He says a great part of his role as marshal was getting to see the same spectators return year after year to his spot on the route, which was between 2nd Street and 3rd Street East near Bow Valley College. “Over the years, I got to see moms and dads with their little kids. The kids got older then they’d disappear for a few years. And then they’d come back as adults with their kids.”
A few years ago Dumonceaux left the parade-day job to take on bigger behind-the-scenes responsibilities. He joined the committee overseeing all the entries in the parade: the floats, bands, horses, and celebrities — everything. This year, he took over as chair of that entries committee. Dumonceaux says his new job involves a lot of meetings and emails throughout the year. He says it’s a big commitment of time as he coordinates the work of his 39 committee members who work together to determine who gets to participate in Calgary’s premier parade that kicks off the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“I spend parade day at Fort Calgary helping organize all the entries,” says Dumonceaux. “I don’t even get to watch it anymore.”
This year’s Calgary Stampede Parade falls exactly 100 days ahead of SAIT’s 100th birthday on October 16. To mark this date, we’re going to line a section of the parade with 100 excited SAIT alumni. The lucky 100 will join the SAIT Alumni crew for breakfast and reserved seating along the parade route the morning of July 8, 2016. To get your name on the list, visit the SAIT Alumni Facebook page on Monday, June 27 after 10 am, click on the contest link and fill out the form to sumbit a Class Note for the commemorative edition of LINK magazine. Seats will be awarded as entries come in and the contest will close when we reach 100.
Written by Eric Rosenbaum