Youth parade: a special memory of the centennial

The children of Utah - future teachers, doctors, farmers, homemakers, community leaders and others - held their own centennial celebration Saturday, July 20 and made their own mark in history.

Some 5,000 of Utah's youngest citizens celebrated 100 years of statehood and commemorated the arrival of the Mormon pioneers in 1847 with the Days of '47 Youth Parade in downtown Salt Lake City. Dressed as pioneers, ranchers, bankers, musicians and people from many walks of life, the young people began the annual parade in the shadow of the Brigham Young statue near the corner of Main Street and South Temple. They walked four blocks south and one block east to the grounds of the Salt Lake City and County Building. There, they enjoyed treats and received certificates stating they were part of the Utah centennial youth parade.Helping lead the way down Main Street in a red convertible were Primary Gen. Pres. Patricia P. Pinegar and her counselors, Anne G. Wirthlin and Susan L. Warner.

Norma Jones, chairman of the Days of '47 Youth Parade committee, emphasized in a pre-parade interview that the state centennial is for the children of Utah as well as for the adults. "They receive a certificate so they can remember they marched in the centennial parade and pass that certificate down to their posterity," she said.

Speaking of the efforts of local Church leaders and parents to prepare for the parade, Sister Jones added: "It takes a lot of organization and it takes a lot of dedication to see that the children have their own special memory of the centennial that they'll pass on to their children and their children's children."

To help the young participants honor the pioneers and learn about the history and growth of their state, parade officials divided the entries by decades - from 1896-1996. Leading the way in state history was the Salt Lake Holladay North Stake with the theme, "Utah, Still the Right Place." Some 300 of that stake's children carrying red, white or blue balloons walked the parade route or rode in a pick-up truck. On the front of their T-shirts was a figure of a beehive with the state of Utah in the middle.

The pioneer section of the parade featured replicas of handcarts and children dressed in pioneer costumes. Included for the first time in the history of the parade was a wagon drawn by live oxen. A little green handcart pulled by calves trailed just behind.

A few moments later, children of the Salt Lake Sugar House Stake marched to the theme, "Building a State," with a banner reading "1896-1990." Their float carried a large representation of the Utah state flag. Participants were dressed in attire portraying the various occupations that had a part in building a state, such as mining, farming, ranching, banking and railroad work.

One entry that brought chuckles and applause was "The Magic of Music," by the Sandy Utah West Stake. In a tribute to the Utah Symphony, the stake's children marched behind a black and silver decorated float from which rose a large figure of a symphony conductor - complete with black top hat, fuzzy gray hair and a winking eye. Up and down in front of the conductor rose the figure of a rabbit. The children wore paper cut-outs of the various instruments used by members of the symphony.

Creator of the symphony idea was stake member Ann Holloway, whose husband, Larry, designed the float. She told the Church News that when the stake was assigned to depict the 1930s, she was baffled at first as to what topic to choose. Then during her research, she read about the "make work" projects in Utah during the Depression designed to foster employment among citizens. One such project was the creation of the Utah Symphony in 1935 to employ musicians.

"Culture was important to our pioneer forefathers," Sister Holloway explained. "Journals tell us that music around the campfire was part of survival in their attitudes."

In speaking of what the children gained from this symphony tribute, she added, "This will make music fun and alive and magic. They will grow up with an appreciation of music and the Utah Symphony."

Among the wide variety of topics depicted this year in the youth parade were tributes to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, to cultural diversity in Utah and to the future.

Following a banner, "The Future 100 Years," children of the Magna Utah East Stake marched with their float, which featured a replica of a large pink piggy bank with a large dangling penny. The children wore paper cut-out replicas of shiny, copper pennies.

The stake's message was that as these pennies will increase in worth over the years, so should the worth of children be realized - and that worth will accrue over the next 100 years of Utah statehood.

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