Wagon and handcart grace inaugural parade

Scrambling to fulfill a late request from the nation's presidential inaugural committee, Church missionaries and craftsmen in Nauvoo, Ill., provided a covered wagon and handcart for President Bill Clinton's inaugural parade Jan. 20.

The entry represented Utah as well as drawing attention to this year's Pioneer Sesquicentennial.It took some doing, according to Elder Grant Fry, manager of Nauvoo Restoration Inc., a non-profit corporation of the Church. "We were put on the spot and it took a number of tricks to get them

the wagon and handcartT to be adequate for the parade," he said.

The wagon was built last year at Nauvoo, spearheaded by Elders Paul Peele and Dale Jolley, Church service missionaries. It was fashioned from a conglomeration of parts scrounged and salvaged from various locations, Elder Fry said.

It was one of the wagons used in last year's re-enactment of the Pioneers' trek from Nauvoo across Iowa to Council Bluffs. It and another wagon had been brought back for refurbishment so they could continue the journey this spring and summer from Omaha, Neb., to Salt Lake City. Then the call came from Church public affairs to furnish a wagon and handcart for the inaugural parade.

Quickly making the wagon parade-worthy required some resourcefulness. It was taken to Amish craftsmen in Milton, Iowa, who shrunk the tires that had come loose on the wheels. Special nuts holding the wagon together had to be machined to replace missing ones.

The handcart replica, built in Nauvoo in 1985, was in excellent condition, Elder Fry said. Artifacts from the Nauvoo historic sites were assembled to outfit the wagon and handcart to make them look authentic, he added.

The effort was coordinated in Washington, D.C., by LaMar Sleight, president of the Oakton Virginia Stake.

Members of the Paul and Sara Peterson family of the Herndon Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake, were chosen to pull the handcart in the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Elder Richard and Sister Algie Hudson, Nauvoo missionaries from the Union 11th Ward, Sandy Utah Cottonwood Stake, were enlisted. She rode in the wagon during the parade while he walked alongside. They were dressed in period costume. A horse team to pull the wagon was provided from the ranch of Elder J. Willard Marriott Jr., an area authority in the North America Northeast Area. Doc Mitchell, the trail boss from the ranch, drove the wagon.

Elder Hudson, a professional truck driver, drove a rented truck to haul the wagon and handcart from Nauvoo to Washington D.C.

A two-hour delay in the starting time for the parade made the horses tense and difficult to steady, he said.

"We were exhausted by the end of the day, but it was thrilling," he related. "We could spot the Church members in the crowd every little ways. They would cheer and wave at us and holler `Utah' and things like that."

"We felt really privileged to do it and represent the Church," Sister Hudson said. "It was overwhelming, the size and the drama of it, to pass by the reviewing stand and see the President of the United States, and to meet Elder Henry B. Eyring [of the Quorum of the Twelve] who was there representing the Church. Just to be able to do missionary work in Nauvoo last year during the sesquicentennial of the exodus was tremendous, and then to top it off with this, who could have thought of such a thing?"

The handcart experience was very positive for the Peterson family according to Sister Peterson, a great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young. She also had a great-great grandfather who was a handcart pioneer.

"We found the crowds to be very friendly," she said. "Everyone was waving at us. When we walked by the presidential viewing area, President Clinton waved at us and gave our children the `thumbs-up' sign."

She and her husband were joined by their three youngest children - Paige, 16, Brett, 14, and Jacklyn, 10 - on the trek. Sister Peterson said the children were excited about being in the parade. "They all liked wearing pioneer costumes provided from Nauvoo," she said.

In addition to greeting participants in the parade, Elder Eyring attended several events as the Church's official representative at the inauguration.

He participated in the prayer breakfast at the invitation of Vice President Al Gore; the swearing-in ceremony as a guest of Sen. Robert F. Bennett; and attended an inaugural ball as the guest of Elder Marriott.

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