SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
The spirit of family and heritage filled the morning air at the Union Pacific Youth Parade on July 18. The parade, which is one of the largest youth parades in the nation, celebrates the pioneers coming to the Utah valley in 1847 and kicks off the Days of ’47 week-long celebration.
This year’s theme, Pioneers-Forging a New Frontier, was displayed in different ways in all 49 entries, 20 of which were submitted by stakes in the area. Five thousand children participated in the parade, which has been a yearly tradition since 1938.
Utah natives, Tim Christofferson and his daughter, Lisa, were the parade announcers and started the day off by sharing the story of how the pioneers came to Utah.
Some floats featured photographs of pioneer ancestors. Others displayed technology of modern days, representing today’s pioneers. Other floats celebrated family history by pioneer clothing or native dress from Mexico, Peru and the Pacific Islands.
Greg James, who is on the Days of ’47 Board of Trustees and is a former president of the organization, said the parade has a “marvelous family spirit.” He enjoys seeing the children get excited about celebrating their ancestry in a time where it could easily be forgotten. “It’s good to see kids who have so much technology everyday get so much pleasure from something that isn’t technology but is remembering the people who founded this state,” he said.
Codie Taylor of the Copperview 3rd Ward, Riverton Utah Copperview Stake, was attending the parade for the first time to watch her son participate. “Just the opportunity for the kids to do it is fun,” she said.
Four awards are given out each year to floats that display the pioneer spirit. The Legacy Award went to the Sandy Utah Hillcrest Stake. The Spirit of Faith Award went to the Midvale Utah North Stake. The Theme Award went to the South Jordan Utah River Ridge Stake. The Wasatch Stake received the Utah Award.
Nesha Smith of the Wasatch 3rd Ward, Salt Lake Wasatch Stake, walked in the parade with her two daughters. Their float, which was the Utah Award winner, featured a glittery beehive and sights from around the state She called getting the award a “great accomplishment” for their stake.
Participating youth and parade goers were asked to bring one canned food item to the event for the Utah Food Bank. Parade organizer Jodene Smith said, “We’re trying to get the kids to realize the pioneer children didn’t always have food when they were walking and we asked them to bring food for children of today who they can help out.”