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Thousands line downtown streets as Parade of Wonders kicks off Calgary Expo weekend

Thousands of enthusiasts, aficionados and fans flooded downtown Calgary on Friday as the Parade of Wonders signalled the start of Calgary Expo weekend.

The Parade of Wonders — or POW! — is Canada’s largest pop culture parade.

Every year, the parade marks the start of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo weekend. This year, the parade celebrated a decade of dazzling spectators who gathered along the streets near Stephen Avenue to watch cosplayers and celebrity guests pass by.

The convention itself draws thousands of fans annually, all there to bask in the comic-book, sci-fi, fantasy, anime and video-game culture on display at Stampede Park.

a group of people in costume.
Parade watchers near the fan zone are getting excited to kick off the Calgary Expo. (Christina Romulado/CBC)

This was also the third time CBC Calgary broadcasted the parade. It was co-hosted by Anis Heydari of the CBC podcast This is Calgary, along with the Calgary Eyeopener‘s Angela Knight.

Viewers will be able to rewatch the event on the new CBC Alberta YouTube channel.

a giant sculpture of the video game character bowser passes through a parade on a truck.
This year’s parade saw the return of a giant Bowser from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. franchise. (Will Tigley/CBC)

Todd McFarlane was this year’s parade marshal.

Born and raised in Calgary, McFarlane is the creator of Spawn, a horror-superhero comic book series. He’s also well known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and being the founder and president of Image Comics.

“Just being in Canada is great, but coming back to the hometown … the fandom here is unbelievable,” he told Heydari from the front of the parade in the official marshal car.

“Calgary is No. 1.”

McFarlane graduated from William Aberhart High School, and his wife from Sir Winston Churchill High School. He says it’s always great to be back in the city.

He’ll be doing a panel with his dad this weekend at the convention.

a man in a car at the front of a parade speaks into a microphone
Todd McFarlane, who was born and raised in Calgary, is this year’s parade marshal. (Christina Romulado/CBC)

Other celebrities marching in the parade included the cast of Letterkenny and stars like Skeet Ulrich, John Rhys-Davies, Ashley Eckstein and more.

Eckstein had some advice for women who love to — or aspire to — cosplay:

“The No. 1 must-have accessory is confidence,” said Eckstein. “If it brings you joy, then wear it.”

CBC also caught up with some fans at Olympic Plaza, where the energy was high and attendees were excited to welcome the celebrity parade guests to the city.

It’s also where the opening ceremony took place, kicking off the official start of the 17th annual Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.

a row of people stand in a line, holding and wearing white cowboy hats.
A white hat ceremony was held at Olympic Plaza for this year’s celebrity parade guests. (Will Tigley/CBC)

While a variety of fan expos take place across Canada, Calgary is the only city that hosts a parade.

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