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Whistler’s pied piper

The Great Whistler Parade showcases everything Whistler with kids, drums, art and Olympic spirit

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What: The Great Whistler Parade

When: Sunday, Feb. 17, 5:40 p.m.

Where: Whistler Village Stroll

Admission: Free

Summer is coming to Celebration 2010 – along with winter, spring and fall.

The Great Whistler Parade of 150-plus participants will change with the seasons as the on-foot pied pipers charm the community out to cheer on the Olympic spirit.

“We created the parade … to give the opportunity for everyone to participate and get involved with it,” said parade producer Christian Kessner of Higher Ground Retreats and Events. “The parade is everything Whistler represents.”

The local procession, made up of both children and adults, will see participants walking out Whistler’s four seasons with each season corresponding to an Olympic colour. The Sunday, Feb. 17 parade will start at Market Place and finish in Skier’s Plaza. All seasons will reflect themes of Whistler’s lifestyle, wildlife and environment – both esthetically and materially.

All of the parade elements: banners, lanterns, costumes and more were sewn, glued and shaken by members of the community during free workshops hosted the first two weeks of February. Hand shakers were painted, lanterns constructed and banners designed.

Mushroom lanterns will be carried in the fall section while snowflakes will glow for winter. The birds of spring will twirl during a flag performance while the eagles will swoop down to feed on salmon in riverbeds.

Original music will be beaten out from start to finish with a troupe of 12 drummer boys on bongos and djembes.   Internationally recognized drumming superstar Pepe Danza got all dozen drummers on the same beat over two workshops to create this original music work of art creating a soundscape to reflect each of the seasons.

The parade will be literally music to onlooker’s ears as the green procession of local organizations, students and the young at heart parade their handmade talismans. No motorized vehicles keep things green.

“It’s all on foot,” Kessner said. “That is the power of the thing. The whole focus of this was sustainability from creation to execution.”

The event is even sustainable in how participation is generating future work for some performers.

The drumming troupe is being hired to perform as part of Whistler Street Entertainment staged throughout Whistler Village during the summer.

Kessner hopes to see the parade grow each year. The parade will be showcased during the 2009 Cultural Olympiad, then every day at the 2010 Olympic Arts Festival and hopefully for many more years to come.

“This is your chance to be a part of the Olympics,” Kessner said. “It’s a great way to participate and be a part of it all…I want this to live on for 30 years and every year, people are looking forward to coming out to see this parade.”

The parade presented by the Whistler Arts Council and Cultural Olympiad will begin at Market Place at 5:40 p.m. with the 2010 Olympic Mascots leading the way then proceed down the Village Stroll where onlookers are encouraged to line the walk way and cheer their community on. The procession will eventually end in Skier’s Plaza at 6:05 p.m. just in time for the Fire and Ice display as world-class athletes fly through the ring of fire.

Parade and show are free. Audiences are invited to bring their lanterns for this dusk-evening show to light the parade’s way.

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