Celebrating Pioneer Day with food, fun, festivities

Wards and stakes from Washington to Florida celebrated their own versions of Pioneer Day as members gathered for picnics, pioneer games, crafts, dancing and to show appreciation for the Mormon pioneer heritage.

Celebrations were held in many areas throughout the Church.During one commemoration, the Tacoma 6th Ward of the Tacoma Washington South Stake enjoyed activities, games, and sports on Saturday, July 21, at a stake campground. Debbie Baldwin, a Sunday School teacher and chairwoman for the day's activities, said she felt the lack of modern conveniences provided a pioneer atmosphere.

Following a picnic, Sister Baldwin explained there were activities for all ages, from preschool to adult. To conclude the festivities, members sang pioneer songs.

In the Fort Lauderdale Florida Stake, members of the Hialeah 1st Ward and Miami Shores Branch gathered on July 21 at the Oleta River State Reservation Park, adjacent to Miami Beach. According to Ann Zambelli, Single Adult representative and Mia Maid teacher in the Hialeah 1st Ward and chairwoman for Saturday's activities, "It was a mini-Olympics."

Teams competed in contests ranging from pitching and batting to bubble gum relay races. Participants also enjoyed horseshoes and swimming.

Sister Zambelli said members not only enjoyed the festivities, but also fellowshipped investigators who attended. She added participants were "experiencing the real fun things in life . . . good clean fun."

In the western Wyoming town of Cokeville, the annual Pioneer Day celebration on July 21 included a parade, barbecues, rodeo, games, dancing and a program featuring Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Seventy and Lex de Azevedo, an LDS composer.

According to Todd Dayton, activities chairman for the Cokeville 1st Ward, the Cokeville 1st and 2nd Wards of the Montpelier Idaho South Stake organized the day's activities with about 1,000 attending, including both residents and guests. "It's kind of a big reunion for Cokeville," said Dayton, who explained the theme of the celebration was "Remember When."

During the program, Elder Porter spoke on appreciating blessings and having gratitude for the freedoms enjoyed in America. De Azevedo's daughters, Emily, Rachel and Rebecca, sang "The Master's Touch" as their father accompanied them on the piano.

Most stakes outside Utah celebrate Pioneer Day before or after July 24 since it is not a federal holiday. The Hannibal, Mo., Branch of the Nauvoo Illinois Stake is gathering July 28 in a park in Hannibal, 60 miles south of Nauvoo, for a picnic, pioneer parade, games and crafts. According to Joylynn Pabst, a counselor in the ward Primary presidency and Pioneer Day committee member, the theme is "Westward Ho."

Sister Pabst feels participants can learn "an appreciation for the way the pioneers had to rely on each other. That's one thing we're well aware of since we are so remote."

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