Niagara Falls Blossom Festival parade got canceled after 9/11


Published May 5, 2022 at 11:59 am

At its peak in 1974, the Niagara Falls Blossom Festival parade boasted 84 marching bands that made up a four-and-a-half-hour parade. (All photos: Niagara Falls Public Library)

While Niagara Falls still holds its annual Blossom Festival every May, a huge component – the parade – has been missing for two decades now.

At its peak in 1984, the Blossom Festival parade, which began in 1959, saw 84 marching bands that made up an almost unwieldy four-and-a-half-hour parade.

American marching bands came from New York State, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania for a total of 104 Canadian and American entrants. They formed on the Canadian side, crossed the Rainbow Bridge and ended up in Niagara Falls, NY to acknowledge the heavy American participation.

Even Tim Hortons had a float in the Niagara Falls Blossom Festival parade.

So why did the parade vanish? One day – September 11, 2001, better known as 9/11 – happened, instantly making border crossings and security measures even between Canada and the U.S. far more stringent.

By 2002, the first May post 9/11, security concerns, border delays and the eventual requirement of passports to cross the Rainbow Bridge severely impacted the number of bands willing to make the trip to Canada.

By 2003, only a dozen U.S. bands were expected to participate, but due to an orange threat level alert from U.S. Homeland Security, only four attended.

That disastrous summer led to the parade being cancelled in 2004 and delayed again in 2005 before finally being cancelled.

The Chippewa Volunteer Fire Department joined the parade almost regularly.

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