The variety of entrants in this year's Days of '47 Parade brought to light a changing face in Utah society. While various faiths have long played a favored role in the annual parade with their often colorful, upbeat choirs and bands, this year's parade included additional ethnic groups that highlighted a mix of new cultures blending into the Wasatch Front fabric.
A governor, mayor and other civic officials from the Iraqi Province of Babil were part of the Days of '47 parade that included consul generals from Mexico and Taiwan, as well as participants from the Vietnamese and Latino communities in Utah.
The parade began on South Temple and Main Street, near the Salt Lake Temple, under the watchful gaze of the famed Brigham Young statue that stands with a hand pointing eastward, as if noting the starting line.
Fast-moving clouds and momentary scattered showers cooled temperatures, after several weeks of hot summer heat, just enough to make the morning comfortable.
Floats from 21 stakes from Centerville to Lindon depicted some aspect of the theme: "Our Pioneer Heritage A Living Legacy." Many included a covered wagon and oxen as a symbol of the sacrifice and faith of pioneers who tamed the area.
Each was clever in thought and colorful in presentation, the result of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours of effort.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, sporting a Stetson hat and leather gloves, led the parade, which has become one of the premier parades in the country and is the gala event of the year in Utah. Its festive, jubilant atmosphere lured people from around the country to visit and tempted some to stake out their claim by sleeping overnight along the parade route.
Of particular note was the Salt Lake East Millcreek Stake entry that honored its former stake president, President Gordon B. Hinckley, for his recent 95th birthday.
The West Jordan Utah Jordan Oaks Stake earned the Theme Award for its stunning depiction of a ship "Led by the Hand of Providence," based on Orson Pratt's quotes describing Moroni's responsibility to preside over America.
Beyond the many members and friends who helped construct the float, said Jackie Brimhall, project specialist for the stake, were the gratifying comments she received from those who said they were stirred by the float and often moved to tears.
The Sandy Utah East Stake's float titled "Memories in the Attic" offered a unique look at how artifacts stuffed in a musty old attic can tell the story of life.
"The challenge," said Sonja Ervin who gathered props for the attic, "was how to show the attic." Once it was decided to build a Victorian house and cut away the walls to expose the attic, "I volunteered to find the props," she said.
A collector of antiques, Sister Ervin already had many artifacts from the early 1900s, like pots, pans, trumpets, plows and pictures. "I have a habit of collecting old things," she said. When she needed something like a gramophone, she studied books at the library, then found similar parts and pieces at Deseret Industries or in stores and assembled a replica herself.
Each stake float was well crafted and worthy of note, but the West Jordan Utah Welby Stake drew special attention for using strawberry preserves to convey its message of preserving legacies. Winner of the sweepstakes award, the Welby stake float displayed a patch of strawberries and a jar of strawberry preserves.
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