Parading Whistler to the world 

Higher Ground event planners aim to throw Olympic-sized performance

Picture 100 people parading through Whistler Village, showcasing mountain culture in a spectacular array of choreographed dances, detailed costumes and cutting-edge musical performances.

This hands-on parade would snake through the town’s core, ending up at Skiers Plaza, and take place every year leading up to the 2010 Olympics and everyday during the Games.

You have just pictured Christian Kessner’s brainchild, The Great Whistler Parade, which makes its stunning debut this February.

“I want this to be totally encompassing and embracing who we are in Whistler,” said Kessner, bubbling with enthusiasm.

“I know we have the ability in Whistler to do all these huge events that are going to take place,” he said.

Kessner’s company, Higher Ground Retreats and Events, got the contract from VANOC to hold this event. The aim is to show Whistler and British Columbian culture to the world during the Games.

Similar performances have been held in other Olympic host cities, such as Torino and Sydney. Unlike other Olympic cultural performances however, Whistler does not have any myths to base the parade on.

“So now is our chance. We are starting from a clean sheet to present the culture here,” said Kessner.

Kessner has been letting his imagination run wild as he dreams up out-there scenarios for this spectacle.

“I have kind of put it in my head that I want this to be like what Cirque du Soleil pulled off for Montreal,” said Kessner.

“Imagine mountain bikers coming out of the sky and jumping on trampolines, that type of thing. I really want to incorporate athletes and performers and really embrace the mountain lifestyle culture.”

The theme of the parade will be the four seasons, with each season described by weather, wildlife and lifestyle. For example, the fall season will incorporate elements of mushrooms, lanterns, and a big bear mascot.

“One choreographed part will be having kids walking in salmon costumes and having a big eagle flying around. And we will also have people going back and forth with fabric swaths to make it look like the salmon are in water,” said Kessner.

And — in staying true to the spirit of Whistler 2020 — the costumes and props in the parade will be almost entirely made out of recycled materials.

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