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Youth Parade

More than 5,000 children, in close to 60 entries, participate in annual event

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."

Melanie Geiger (2 1/2yrs) yawns  on the shoulders of her father, Jason Geiger, while participating in the Annual Youth Parade  in Salt Lake City.   They are from the Union Park Stake.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Melanie Geiger (2 1/2yrs) yawns on the shoulders of her father, Jason Geiger, while participating in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City. They are from the Union Park Stake. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News

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."

Emma Mcallister (front) and her sister Rachel from the Glenmoor stake in South Jordan participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Emma Mcallister (front) and her sister Rachel from the Glenmoor stake in South Jordan participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News

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."

Ammon (3yrs)(left)  and Samuel Crane participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City.  The duo are from the Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Ammon (3yrs)(left) and Samuel Crane participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City. The duo are from the Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News
Children participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Children participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News
Children from the Salt Lake Olympus Stake participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Children from the Salt Lake Olympus Stake participate in the Annual Youth Parade in Salt Lake City. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News
Members from the Salt Lake Parleys stake participate in the  Annual Youth Parade.  Photo: Michael Brandy.  July 19, 2008
Members from the Salt Lake Parleys stake participate in the Annual Youth Parade. Photo: Michael Brandy. July 19, 2008 Photo: Deseret News

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