Stafford takes parade opportunity to thank people of Woodstock
Rodney Stafford carried a sign down Dundas Street Monday as part of the Woodstock Victoria Day parade that said, “Thank You Woodstock for a Decade of Support.”
Stafford and his Justice for Tori group closed the parade that has been held annually for nearly 75 years.
The parade got the unofficial start of summer in Oxford County off to a good start.
"It's always a great weekend in Friendly City," says Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birch.
"It's great to see all of the young people coming out to see all the great bands, and great groups in the community that help improve our quality of life.”
For the fifth consecutive year, Birch and his three children chose to ride bicycles in the parade to promote a healthy lifestyle.
One of the other dignitaries near the front of the procession was Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman.
"It's the parade of the whole county," says Hardeman. "Everyone is coming, and the first parade for the start of the summer is right here in Woodstock, and we're so happy to be here."
From vintage cars, to Shriners, to floats and stilt walkers, the event had representation from many different groups.
Organizer Brad Janssen referred to it as "organized chaos."
"We have 14 marching bands including some of the best in the province," he says. "Every year we tweak it, this year we have representation from Justice for Tori.”
The movement was started after one of the killer's of Stafford's daughter Tori, 8, was moved to a minimum-security healing lodge.
The outcry over the move of Terri-Lynn McClintic to the facility prompted officials to transfer her out of the lodge.
Janssen is proud of the fact that the parade is all-inclusive and free.
The 3.5-kilometre route began at the fairgrounds and ended at Southside Park, which Janssen calls "the crown jewel of our park system."
It was part of a weekend of festivities at the park on Old Wellington Street, which included a carnival, baseball tournament, displays and rides.
This was the 72nd year for the parade.