What do these words bring to mind: Stratford, April, Swans? If you think I am talking about Shakespeare’s country in England, let me take you back to this side of the pond to Stratford, Ontario Canada! This is the first April weekend. We do not have daffodils out here yet, but the City of Stratford, which also has a River Avon running through it, has a crowd drawing Swan Parade every year to announce the arrival of Spring.
I arrived at the bank of the river half an hour before the parade and there were already over two thousand people waiting. The seniors sat in lawn chairs, the children ran around or waited patiently on the curb side, while the adults chatted, some of them wearing the paper swan hats that were handed out by the organizers. The marching band of the local police was playing to entertain the crowd. A lot of people came with their cameras, and what could be a better vantage point than climbing up the tree?
Two o’clock sharp and the Em-cee announced, “Here they come!” The excitement of the crowd was palpable. The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums started to march down the street, heralding the swans from their Winter Quarters and headed towards the Avon River. Leading the swans were a couple of Chinese geese. They looked so calm and composed, even the cameras clicking away did not upset them. A black swan came next with its head held high as if telling the crowd that it was proud to be the only black swan there. A herd of some twenty white swans followed in a orderly manner. The crowd started to parade behind them until the swans entered the river.
It was a windy Spring day, but well worth my while to drive out to Stratford to be part of the festivities. For many others, it was a family day out to enjoy the outdoor entertainment, face painting, photography display and dressing up.
The organizers included a swan decorations competitions for the shops in town.
My husband and I visited the pens where the swans were kept in the winter before the parade and walked around the city to complete our trip before heading home.