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This article was published 3/10/2020 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In what organizers believe will be the first time in 30 years, a Jesus March is set to take place through Brandon today.
The non-denominational parade is set to begin on Pacific Avenue, where a line of floats and paraders in red T-shirts are expected to line up in front of The Glory Centre, at 1700 Pacific Avenue this morning.
Joined by vintage vehicles and horses, they’ll set out on their route at approximately 11 a.m., with a few scheduled stops along the way to share their message, which key organizer David Ironstand described as "proclaiming God’s glory in Brandon."
Their first stop will be Brandon University, after which they’ll make their way for brief stops at Brandon Police Service headquarters and Brandon City Hall before winding toward their final stop at Princess Park by approximately 2 p.m.
Joining Ironstand and Friday Olowookere in organizing the event is Ray Johnson, who has headed similar marches in various countries throughout the world.
Oftentimes, they’ll be in war-torn regions where they’ve had to prepare for the possibility of there being some severe outcomes such as riots.
Despite the potential for danger, Johnson said onlookers tend to respond to the paraders’ positivity with good vibes of their own.
"When you really believe in something and you have faith and go out and demonstrate that faith in a positive way, people look at that," he said. "People get encouraged on the inside and celebrate on the outside."
In Masvingo, Zimbabwe, in 2015, he said their initial half-hour march turned into a three-hour street party.
"They ended up celebrating and dancing with us," Johnson said. "The city broke out in joy."
While Brandon is not in nearly as dire of straits as some of the nations Johnson has organized a Jesus March in, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on people’s mental health the world over, which he said an uplifting community parade can help with.
"Our faith is all based on looking up and having faith in Heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ," he said, adding that a declaration of faith can help in times when hope comes up short.
"That’s what we need during these times of COVID-19."
Various COVID-19 safety precautions will be taken throughout the parade’s duration, including attempts to limit their size to 100 people, physically distancing at least two metres and encouraging the use of face masks.
That said, Ironstand added they don’t want to turn anyone away, so if more people show up they’ll find alternative accommodations for them that will keep safety and provincial regulations in mind.
"We just want to bless everybody in Jesus’ name," he said. "We just encourage everyone to be blessed."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB