Parade Honors Pioneers as Anchors for the Future
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor
Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Salt Lake City on July 24 to cheer colorful floats and festive bands and remember Utah’s rich pioneer heritage.
The annual Days of ’47 Parade is one of the oldest parades in the nation and part of a long-standing tradition in Utah; the first recorded Pioneer Day celebration in the Salt Lake Valley took place on July 24, 1849.
More than 100 entries—many of which were sponsored by local LDS stakes and Church-affiliated organizations—were part of this year’s parade. Each represented variations on the parade theme: “Pioneers—Our Anchor for the Future.” One of the parade entries represented the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii, celebrating its 50th anniversary.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, served as the parade’s grand marshal, riding along the route with his wife, Harriet.
A float created by the Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake celebrated the sacrifice of early pioneers who came to Zion as part of the Perpetual Emigration Fund and modern-day pioneers who sacrifice to get an education through the Perpetual Education Fund. A large wind at the back of the float blows “us from one era to the next and into the future,” said Jackie Miller, chairwoman of the stake’s float committee. “Through the winds of time [pioneers of all eras] are able to fly to a better future.”
The Riverton Utah Stake float was made of a huge ark and celebrated the Old Testament prophet Noah. “Noah’s example anchors our youth,” said Brian Thacker, a member of the float committee. The float was dedicated to the memory of late stake president Jim Mickelsen, who died last year.
Leslie Lorimer said the float sponsored by the Salt Lake Olympus Stake celebrated the pioneers who aimed to anchor their lives to the “Good Ship Zion.” They were promised by President Brigham Young that if they “remained with the ship, they would get to where they wanted to be,” said Sister Lorimer.
The Salt Lake Olympus Stake's float won the Sweepstakes Award and the People's Choice Award during the Days of '47 Parade. Thousands lined the streets and cheered as the various floats passed by. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.
She said as stake members were constructing the float, they determined the good ship would be filled with symbols from the temple. “We made the temple the focus,” she said.
The whole method of creating a float was a “strenuous process,” she said. However, “pulling together to do something big was a sweet experience,” she added, noting that 500 Primary children, 200 youth, and 400 other volunteers from the stake worked on the float. “It is a measure of devotion and a joyful expression of the love we have for God and each other.”