Brigham Young's statue at the intersection of Main and South Temple seemed to gaze approvingly as the mammoth "Days of '47" parade began July 24, commemorating the arrival of President Young and the first Pioneer company in the Salt Lake Valley 143 years ago.
The 2 1/2-hour spectacle stretched 16 blocks, heralding the heritage of the past and hope for a bright future.A cloud cover moderated the summer temperature, with stiff breezes occasionally buffeting floats and otherwise harassing parade entrants. Tens of thousands of spectators lined the parade route, many arriving before dawn to ensure a vantage point for the 9 a.m. event.
President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Frances, rode in a convertible, waving to spectators. They were third in line behind a police motorcycle squad and a color guard.
Of the 148 entries, 19 floats were sponsored by stakes of the Church in and near Salt Lake City.
Other entries, although not officially sponsored by the Church, carried LDS-related themes, such as covered wagons and handcarts drawn by members of Sons of Utah Pioneers and a marching group from the Mormon Battalion.
A unique entry featured members of the extended Wolfgramm family of Salt Lake City in native Tongan dress and on a float commemorating the establishment of the Church in Tonga and the immigration of the Wolfgramms to Salt Lake City, the first Tongan Church members to do so. The family includes the famous pop music group, the Jets.
Judges gave the sweepstakes award to the Salt Lake Grant Stake whose violet and yellow float commemorated the "Miracle of the Gulls." It featured animated, hopping crickets and gold seagulls circling overhead, ready to rescue the Mormon pioneers from having their crop devoured.
The float also won first place in historical division 1.
"Winter Quarters, an Example" was the theme of the Salt Lake Brighton Stake's float, which won second place in historical division 1 for the commemoration of the Pioneers' temporary settlement in Nebraska.
Third place winner in that division was the Salt Lake Granger Stake for its float, "Vision of the Future, Reflection of the Past." Done in violet and silver, it featured a revolving mirror, with children and adults representing the pioneer heritage of the past and the possibilities of the future.
In historical division 2, the Taylorsville Utah West Stake won first place for its float, "Asian Contributions to Utah Industry and Commerce," spotlighting railroading, mining, truck farming, and independent business. A large Chinese fan on the back of the float symbolized the year of the horse.
Second-place winner in historical division 2 was the Sandy Utah Hillcrest Stake, whose float honored "Utah, Pioneers in Medical Research," and featured the artificial heart, and a white-smocked, cartoon-figure scientist.
Third place in the division was won by Taylorsville Utah Central Stake, for "Patriots Around the World," spotlighting the Mormon pioneers, the women's suffrage movement in Utah, and U.S. Sen. Jake Garn, who flew in the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Other Church floats focused on the democracy movement in Eastern Europe, Utah livestock, the pioneering spirit, Relief Society Christian service, agriculture, LDS Young Men, Hispanic contributions to Utah, expulsion from Nauvoo, and LDS temples.
The parade bore a national and international flavor. Civic leaders from Salt Lake City's sister cities - Chernovtsy, Soviet Union; Matsumoto, Japan; and Keelung, Taiwan - rode in the procession.
A group of Boy Scouts from Korea, staying in Utah at the invitation of South Jordan (Utah) 1st and 15th wards, marched in the parade.
Also included was a generous offering of parade fare, including clowns, unicycle riders, a mime, horses, bagpipers, and military and high school marching bands.