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Days of '47 Parade honors pioneer sacrifice as 'Foundations for the Future'

Adam Buhl and his family are no strangers to the Days of '47 Parade.

Each year he and his wife stake out a prime viewing spot, dress the kids up in pioneer outfits and celebrate the arrival of Brigham Young and the first group of pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

"We come out here every year religiously," Buhl said. "It's fun to teach (the children) about pioneers and what they did. They get to be pioneers for a day."

The theme "Pioneer Stories: Foundations for the Future" served as the inspiration for this year's annual parade in downtown Salt Lake City on Pioneer Day, July 24.

Dozens of Latter-day Saint stakes from around Utah, including the Cottonwood, South Jordan, Hunter Central, Sandy Cottonwood Creek and Farmington West stakes, created floats interpreting the theme. Displays included a futuristic, space-themed take and a float displaying a pioneer reading stories to children, honoring the "culture, strength and fortitude" early Utah settlers created for later generations.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, represented the Church and waved happily to the crowds near the beginning of the parade from the seat of a white Ford Mustang Convertible.

Other state officials, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert, also greeted crowds as the parade continued.

Buhl's family always looks forward to the displays from the Salt Lake Police Motor Squad, while 6-year-old Olivia Buhl particularly enjoys seeing the "princesses," or city royalties.

The Days of '47 royalties and several other city royalties represented different parts of the state. Floats were also present from Utah universities, including the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, both founded by Brigham Young.

The celebration of the Utah pioneers was evident throughout the procession. Floats featured men and women in pioneer outfits and performances of popular hymns and children's songs about pioneers, such as "Pioneer Children Sang As They Walked."

Other notes of pioneer and Church history were echoed in the parade through the representation of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and a group of men representing the Mormon Battalion.

Kurtis Edelman and his scout troop from Corinne, Utah, marched in the recreation of the Mormon Battalion. Edelman said it's important to recognize the sacrifice that those men and women made, and to remember the sacrifices that are made today to keep that spirit alive.

"It's important to remember our history and how privileged we are right now," Kellen Golightly, a 17-year-old scout who marched with Edelman, said.

The scouts were dressed the part, with long sleeves, vests and full length pants. Wearing all that clothing and walking five miles in the summer heat made 13-year-old Turner Edelman appreciate the hard work it was for those early members crossing the country.

Other memorable parts of the parade included a display of vintage cars, performances from several marching bands and a float from the city of Cottonwood Heights that featured a working snow machine, adding a small taste of winter in the middle of a day that reached over 90 degrees.

Deborah Hoffa and her family arrived early in the morning to support family members participating in the marathon preceding the parade. Although she has lived in the state for only the last eight to 10 years, Hoffa recognizes the importance of remembering the pioneers, even 171 years after their arrival.

"They paved the way for a lot of us," she said. "Regardless if it was the LDS pioneers or the people who came out this way just trying to make a better life for themselves, they're the examples and they're the reason why we make it where we are."

For Buhl, whose great-grandmother was one of the pioneers who pulled a handcart into the valley, the day is about more than just fun and celebration. It's about remembering the dedication and faith of those early members who laid the foundations of what Utah is now.

"If we don't do this and remember, then we'll forget," he said.

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