Calgary residents are getting a happy diversion from their water woes, as its annual Stampede summer festival begins today with a downtown parade.

The parade comes a month to the day after a major water main broke in the city’s northwest, flooding streets and turning off the taps to 60 per cent of the drinking water for the city and surrounding communities.

Crews scrambled to repair the line and, in the process, found five more weak spots to fix.

A directive to have Calgarians cut their indoor water use by 25 per cent with fewer showers and toilet flushes was lifted earlier this week.

A ban on outdoor watering remains in place as the water system runs at reduced capacity to keep enough water in reserve to fight fires and the replacement line undergoes tests.

The Stampede – a combination midway fair, entertainment festival and rodeo competition — brings thousands of visitors to the city every July.

Earlier this month, there were concerns the population bump from the 10-day event would push the city’s water system to a breaking point.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said while she has asked Calgarians to continue to go slow on their indoor water use, contingency plans are in place for the Stampede.

“It was heartening to see that the Calgary Stampede and their CEO found a way to continue the greatest outdoor show on Earth in a responsible way, by finding ways to save water or bring in water from places outside of Calgary,” Gondek said Thursday.

She said the Stampede will, for example, clean the rodeo grandstand less frequently using non-treated water.

“When you head down to the Stampede grounds this year you will be able see the water storage tanks that are in place and ready to go as needed," she added.

The parade, snaking through the downtown, is to be headed by actor and parade marshal Owen Crow Shoe.

The Stampede is also the site of political pancake flipping. Premier Danielle Smith is scheduled to toss flapjacks on Monday, while the Opposition NDP, with new leader Naheed Nenshi, is to host three pancake events starting Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2024.