When we first started making plans to attend the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade in Charlottetown I was really nervous. The parade is billed as the largest street parade in eastern Canada and it attracts thousands of spectators. I had visions of trying to maneuver the kids through massive crowds and sitting in traffic for hours trying to make our way in and out of the downtown. To try and calm my fears I went online and searched for tips about parking, the best place to view the parade, and where to find restrooms. Every search came up with nothing. With no way to know for sure we headed out Friday morning to find out for ourselves what the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade was really like.
Luckily for us my fears were unwarranted and the parade was a very family friendly experience. It is hard to imagine that 50,000 people were there with us watching the 2 hour long parade. We didn’t experience any jostling crowds and we didn’t sit in any traffic jams. We all enjoyed the variety of floats, balloons, and entertainment, and the length of the parade was just right. The hero theme of this year’s parade was right up the younger Fives’ alley and they really enjoyed seeing some of their favorite super heroes as well as dressing up for the event themselves. Plus the fact that The Muppets made an appearance made their day, especially when Animal gave them all high fives.
To calm the fears of any other first time visitors and fill a much needed void on the Internet here are our tips for watching the Gold Cup and Saucer Parade:
– The Parade Route: Take a look at the parade route ahead of time and plan out where you want to see the parade from. We decided to watch the parade from the very beginning of the route so that the kids didn’t have to wait so long for it to begin and so we could leave the city ahead of the crowds. This was a more residential area but if you want to be closer to restaurants and shops you would want to view the parade near the Confederation Center area.
– When to Arrive: If you want your pick of good seats along the parade route plan on arriving a few hours early. We arrived a good hour early and we just snagged some of the last remaining sidewalk along the street.
– Parking: Think about where you are going to park. Street parking didn’t seem like a major issue in the residential areas of Charlottetown. However, just in case we had located a nearby elementary school on Google Maps and parked in their parking lot. That way we didn’t need to deal with curbside parking or searching for a free spot.
– Parade Balloons: If you really want to see the parade balloons completely inflated make sure that you pick a viewing area where there aren’t any low hanging trees or wires. Along the beginning of the parade route the balloons couldn’t be fully inflated because there were just too many trees and telephone wires. Our kids didn’t mind but it definitely upset some of the spectators near us.
– Staying Comfortable: Bring comfortable chairs or cushions. Since we don’t travel with folding chairs we spent two hours sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk and by the end we were all a bit uncomfortable. We also didn’t spot any restroom facilities or portable toilets near the parade route so if you have little kids definitely make sure you make a pit stop before the parade starts.
– Donations: Make sure to pack some Canadian money to drop in the parade fundraising buckets (nets) when they pass them around at the start of the parade. We didn’t expect this and didn’t have any cash or change on hand to donate.
– Waiting: Don’t forget snacks and activities for the long wait before the parade. The kids were super excited to walk to the parade and get their seats but waiting for the first floats to appear is definitely hard. We brought lots of reading material to keep them occupied.
We hope that you enjoy PEI’s Gold Cup and Saucer parade as much as we did!