There are a lot of firsts during this year’s K-Days. For one this year’s parade, which started in 1903, for the first time in decades marched down Jasper Avenue in the heart of downtown Edmonton. Just minutes before the 110 entries started their journey between 97 St., and 109 St., Northlands President and CEO, Tim Reid, announced on Global that two very special discounted ticket days were being offered to the general public for gate admission, $2 Tuesday on July 25 and $1 Sunday on July 30th. The 5,000 tickets available for each day are only available through www.ticketmaster.ca.

This year’s parade marshals were members of the police department, in celebration of the Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) 125-year anniversary. Leading in the first vehicle Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht noted, “I am humbled, what a great honour to be leading the parade. Thank you so much Northlands for giving our members and staff the opportunity celebrate our 125th anniversary in this way.” The chief pointed out how things have changed a lot over the years. “In 1892 it started with one constable, by the end of the century we tripled the size of the department to three, we got our first car 10-years after that.” EPS now has just under 2500 members and employees.

As the chief smiled, waved and rolled passed the thousands of people lining both sides of Jasper Ave., he commented, “What a great turnout.” In the crowd waving back was a third generation attending family. Grandmother Denine Christianson fondly remembers, “my mom brought me to the parade for the first time when I was around seven-years-old.” The same age as her grandson, Oliver Jenness, one of her six grand children, “I used to love watching the floats, the dresses and outfits. They like to come to see the superheroes, Spiderman, Superman and Batman; they always hope that is in the parade. And right on queue the next entry to come along was a group of those same superheroes, much to the delight of all the kids. Christianson added, “It’s awesome, I’m glad Northlands has kept the parade up over all these years.”

Another huge impact to the community from this year’s K-Days Parade comes in cash from the four Local Heroes contest winners, who also get to be honourary K-Days Parade marshals. Northlands and Global Edmonton partner to find generous, kind and selfless community volunteers in the capital region. Each winner gets a $2,000 prize that they get to, in-turn, donat to the charity of their choice. One of the winners, Jesse Lipscombe, turned an ugly drive-by racist moment in September 2016 into the #MakeItAwkward movement. “Everything that happens in life we have an opportunity to make something good of it. People have more power than what they know; it’s up to you to do what you want with every situation. Always look for that the silver lining.” Lipscombe has a strong connection to the K-Days Parade. “I have watched the parade with my family since I was a kid, now I have a family of my own. I have always had a hankering to be in the parade; it’s been a lot of fun and an honour to be picked as one of the 2017 Local Heroes. Northlands always seems to step-up for Edmonton, they are defiantly community leaders.” Jesse’s $2,000 donation has been shared with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.

The other 2017 winners are:
• Greg Kopchuk who has dedicated countless hours towards Angel Flight Alberta. This organization supplies free air transportation to individuals living in rural areas who need to access centralized medical care facilities in Edmonton and Calgary. Greg’s $2,000 donation goes to Angel Flight Alberta.
• Bean Gill has proven that having a disability does not define who you are or limit what you can accomplish. After her sudden paralysis in 2012, she partnered up with her trainer to opened up the ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre. The centre focuses on motivating and promoting recovery within individuals suffering from spinal injuries or other impairments. Bean’s $2,000 donation goes to the ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre.
• Samantha Tan, at just 16 years of age, with a full IB academic workload in high school she manages to spend time every week giving back to the community. As a cadet, Tan has volunteered for the Edmonton Food Bank, Heart of the City Festival and other events throughout the community. Currently, Samantha volunteers each week at TELUS World of Science – Edmonton as an interpretive volunteer on the science team to help promote science education. It is Samantha’s goal to pursue a career in medicine, furthering her passion to help others. Samantha’s $2,000 donation goes to the Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS).

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