Vancouver’s first Canada Day parade began with a single police car driving down West Georgia Street and ended with a massive street party when spectators were invited to flood the road.

Thousands of people turned up to watch the event yesterday evening, which many said they hope becomes an annual tradition.

Even Santa Claus made a cameo on his sleigh to promote his own parade.

Jessica Ma of Vancouver said it was interesting that most participants were representing a culture or country — which is indicative of what it truly means to be Canadian.

“I think it was great,” Ma said. “It’s good to show different cultures and that they can express themselves.”

Brenda Mason of Surrey, who watched the parade with her daughter Stella, 2, said she’d like to see more floats and participants representing Canadian icons — like hockey players — next year.

The parade was the culmination of a day of celebrations across the city.

Earlier, more than 100,000 people filled Canada Place for an annual festival celebrating all things Canadian.

Claude Brunelle, who was head-to-toe in red and white, said he’s been dressing up for Canada Day for more than 10 years.

“First two years I just had a flag, and every year I added more,” Brunelle said.

Others in costume included a fully dressed hockey player, a luge racer and a Mountie on stilts.
with files from daniel tam