Pioneer Day parade in Salt Lake celebrates pioneering heritage from around the world

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Salt Lake City celebrates Pioneer Day with a parade, rodeos and musical performances. Parade performers honored pioneer heritage from around the world this year. (Abigail Gunderson)

After a week of festivities, people gathered in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 23, to celebrate their state’s pioneer heritage at the Days of ‘47 parade. 

Those attending and performing in the parade paid tribute to their unique heritage, whether from the covered wagon pioneers of 1847, the highlands of Scotland or the islands of Tonga. 

The first wagon train arrived in the Salt Lake valley on July 24, 1847. Utah has marked the anniversary with a parade almost every year since then, starting in 1849. On July 24, Utahns celebrate the pioneering courage which has built the Beehive State. 

“We want to celebrate the characteristics of our pioneer forebears: persistence, hard work, those things as Utahns we continue to exhibit today,” said Aimee Winder Newton, a member of the Salt Lake County Council. 

“It’s just a great celebration.” 

Pioneer Day reminds her of the challenges her ancestors overcame to create a thriving community in the desert. Winder Newton said they helped the area blossom despite opposition.

“It’s not an easy place to build homes and plant gardens and make a living, and our pioneer forebears did that.” 

Noah Olsen came all the way from southern Utah to celebrate with family and run in the Deseret News 10K.  

“We usually come up here every year,” he said. For Olsen, Pioneer Day is a time to look to and learn from the past. 

“I think it’s really important to know where you came from and just know history in general,” he said. “If we don’t know history then, well, we’re condemned to repeat it.” 

After 175 years in the Salt Lake Valley, Utahns have plenty of history to reflect on and look forward to many years left to grow. 

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