Touted as the "largest youth parade in the country," this year's Days of '47 Youth Parade was held July 19 to the theme, "Still Pioneering Together."
In close to 60 entries, more than 5,000 children participated from Church stakes, community groups and schools in and around the Salt Lake City area, walked the four-block stretch of downtown Salt Lake City with flags, banners, kazoos and sock puppets in hand to celebrate their pioneer heritage.
Becky Edwards, Youth Parade Chairman, said each year the Days of '47 celebration tries to include a broader spectrum of the community while remaining true to Utah's pioneer heritage. "It's really like a Founder's Day celebration for the state of Utah," said Sister Edwards, "that should include, and does include, all the residents and not just people who have heritage that goes back to those early folks in 1847."
Ethnic entries in the parade included, among others, groups from Argentina, Vietnam, the Philippines, Rwanda and Bulgaria.
Gloria Nduwimana, 10, moved to Utah from Burundi just over a year ago. She and five other children marched in the parade playing the ingoma drums as they represented the Rwandese Traditional Dance Group of Central Africa.
Each stake involved finds a way to individualize the parade theme to experiences and heritage. The Sandy Utah Crescent North Stake did this with a gigantic, fully rotating smiley face float. Inspired by the Primary song, "If You Chance To Meet A Frown," the young members of the stake reminded spectators of pioneer children and their good attitudes and how they were able to endure many trials.
Stakes in the Utah Salt Lake City Area get to participate every eight years or so, according to Sister Edwards. When their turn comes, they work very hard to make it a meaningful experience for the children. "It's more than just showing up the day of the parade and walking four blocks. They use it as a framework for teaching over a period of time, some kind of gospel principle. Those are the ones that will be remembered years, even decades later."
Emily Adair of the Winder 5th, Salt Lake Winder Stake, walked with her children, Ethan, 6, and Ashley, 4, and said the youngsters were sure the pioneers took planes or cars or perhaps a train. "No," said Sister Adair, "they walked just like this." Walking under the near-100-degree weather, the young paraders simply responded with a somber, "Wow."
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