Every year, Megan Wilson and her friends arrive prepared to fight the Canada Day crowds.

“Over the years, I learned to not wear flip-flops,” said the Toronto resident, who is originally from Ottawa. “Even if it’s super hot, there are just too many people pushing and squeezing and you have to protect your feet.”

Also, bring your own water, because it can be difficult to find water when you need it, and a cellphone, because it’s easy to lose track of the people you came with, she added.

Sounds like a lot of effort, but for Wilson, it’s worth it, she said.

“Downtown and on (Parliament Hill) to people-watch and watch fireworks at night is definitely the place to be on Canada Day,” she said. “I never miss it.”

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on Parliament Hill — and through a period of rain — to celebrate Canada’s 142nd birthday yesterday.

Events included the flag-raising ceremony, the Changing of the Guard, the RCMP Musical Ride, and of course, the entertainment and the evening fireworks.

Performers included Sarah McLachlan, Marie Mai, The Respectables with Gordie Johnson, Shane Yellowbird, Marie-Jo Therio, K’naan, Chic Gamine and the Canadian Tenors.

There were also events at Major’s Hill Park and across the Ottawa River at Jacques Cartier Park, free Ottawa International Jazz Festival shows at Confederation Park, and Aboriginal Experiences at Victoria Island.

Revellers also got to meet athletes at the Capital Infocentre, where there was a celebration of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.