Remembering Pioneer heritage

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Thousands of people lined the streets of Salt Lake City on Monday morning to celebrate Pioneer Day and cheer on runners and watch floats pass by for the Days of ’47 parade. Radio stations blared popular hits from the ’80s and ’90s as carts with inflatable SpongeBobs, Bart Simpsons and glow sticks slowly moved by.

The pioneers might be surprised by such a celebration if they were able to witness it.

[media-credit name=”Luke Hansen” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Parade watchers wave to the passing floats on Saturday during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City.
“I think they would like it,” said Kirk Brown, 50, from South Jordan. “I don’t think they saw themselves as being heroes when they were doing it. I think they would be in disbelief that we’re doing this, honoring them.”

The crowds start forming along the parade route the day before, when tents and tarps can officially be laid out on the sidewalks. The sidewalks turn into a party with food, games, music and even movies projected onto inflatable screens. One sidewalk reveler described it as the “Mormon Mardi Gras.”

“You try to sleep between 2 and 5 a.m.,” said Julie Brown, 48, from South Jordan. “But it’s hard because every car that drives by is honking and screaming. It’s really not the parade so much as the sleepover and all-night party that is the fun part. I feel bad for the people who just come in the morning for the parade.”

The campers make the pre-parade marathon/10k/5k/Fitness Walk enjoyable for those participating. Brittany Brown, 14, from South Jordan said she looks forward to the opportunity every year.

“I’ve been coming to the parade since before I can remember,” Brown said. “Every year we bring a spray bottle to cool down the runners. If I ever run, I hope someone sprays me in the face.”

After the runners and walkers finished, the police combed the parade route to clear a path for the floats. Motorcycle police from Salt Lake City, The Unified Police Department and The Utah Highway Patrol escorted the first few floats. Among them were state, city, local and leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I love seeing the General Authorities,” said Rachelle Mcgrath, 24, from Provo. “It was special this year to be able to see President [Thomas S.] Monson and his wife.”

The parade ran almost seamlessly, the only hiccups were two floats that overheated and had to be helped along the route by trucks titled “float doctors.” Most parade observers seemed to enjoy the experience.

“I have gone to the parade a few times,” McGrath said. “It is just a great chance to be together with family and friends and remember our pioneer ancestry.”

 

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