Creativity, dazzle highlight annual Days of '47 parade

This year's Days of '47 Parade on July 24 filled the streets of downtown Salt Lake City with ample dazzle and abundant wonder - most of it with an LDS theme - as 19 stakes joined their entries with 104 others in the third largest parade of its kind in the nation.

President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, was grand marshal of the two-hour historically oriented parade that honors the 1847 arrival of the Mormon pioneers. The congenial leader and his wife, Ruth, riding in a convertible, were warmly applauded by spectators.Following them came a visually compelling array of marching bands, horse teams, clowns, police motorcycles, vintage vehicles, dignitaries and floats.

The 19 stake floats, which garnered eight of 13 awards, reflected the creativity and effort of stake volunteers, who built their floats around the theme "Pioneers, a Legacy of Courage and Strength."

A float by the Draper Utah Eastridge Stake captured the admiration of those watching and won both the Days of '47 Sweepstakes Award and the People's Choice Award. The float depicted modern pioneers from Africa. Glittering in color, fastidous in detail of a central African scene, the float featured the Don and Jerri Harwell family of the Salt Lake Genesis group. Of significance were dancers in front of the float who are present-day pioneers, sisters from Equatorial Guinea who were baptized in 1995 and are among the few Church members from their nation.

"We had a great time making the float," said Margaret Lee, designer. She explained that President Gordon B. Hinckley's visit to Africa in February inspired the idea behind the float.

"We were very excited when we found the people to be on the float. They are the epitome of pioneers."

The parade's pioneer theme carried through most of the floats, from popular ones of sea gulls and crickets of the Hunter West Stake, winner of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Award, to a more recent historical period of the Bountiful Utah Orchard Stake's depiction of an old-time railroad steam engine. This float, winner of the Utah Award for religious organizations, portrayed the engine arriving on tracks scrolling back into time, wheels turning and chimney steaming, remembering the efforts of 146,000 members who came to Utah by rail between 1870 and 1910.

The Salt Lake Eagle Gate Stake, winner of Brigham Young Award for the best religious theme, was probably the most elegant of all floats. It presented, among "spirit world" trees bearing fruit, the eternal nature of the family.

Another stake winner was the South Jordan Utah Stake, which won the Theme Award with its nostalgic image of a boy in a red Flyer wagon, ascending in his imagination to the sky.

The Sandy Utah West Stake float, "Timeless Legacies," won both the Legacy and Outstanding Animation awards for its chiming grandfather clock and giant mice that moved in the clocklike precision of a timepiece.

One float, by West Valley City in suburban Salt Lake County, honored the Ruth Hale family, longtime community and LDS theater devotees. The float, the winner of the Governor's Award for government organizations, was about the Hale Family Theater. Ruth Hale, matriarch, surrounded by players of the company, announced the building of a new community theater in West Valley City. Another float honored well-known LDS composer Crawford Gates.

Probably the most humorous float, though not an award winner, was presented by the Bluffdale Utah Stake, with a title "Courage - I'll Go." This float portrayed a giant fish, surrounded by bobbing smaller fishes, and the kicking legs of Jonah protruding from it mouth.

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