The Big Event
Utahans really love their parades! The 4th of July parade is big (biggest parade is in Provo, Utah) but the parade on the 24th of July to celebrate Pioneer Day in Utah is the biggest (3 hours long). In fact (I have been told) it is the 2nd biggest parade west of the Mississippi. The Rose Parade in Pasadena is number one.
AND even more unbelievable is the fact the first Pioneer Day Parade in Utah was FIRST held July 24th, 1849 just two years after the pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley!
Brief History: On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and a company of Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Pulling handcarts or driving wagons with oxen or horses, thousands of pioneers carried a firm commitment to America’s belief in freedom of religion as they made the trek across the plains to a vast desert landscape that became known as the Utah Territory.
“This trek of the early Utah pioneers exemplifies the courage, foresight, and faith that continue to inspire modern-day pioneers. By remembering those remarkable 1847 pioneers and all those who followed, The Days of ’47 seeks to make their accomplishments and hardships live today through a variety of activities and celebrations each year. The example of past and present pioneers’ courage is a beacon to the world.”
The parade was known as the “Pioneer Days Parade” up until 1931. From 1931 to 1946 the parade was known as the “Covered Wagon Days Parade“. Since 1947 the parade has been known by its current name…The Day’s of ’47 Parade.
From the beginning, the pioneers who arrived in the valley before 1869 were honored with a dinner each July 24. The last living pioneer died 1 Jan 1968. Her name was Hilda Erickson and she was 108 years old.
To get a good spot to view the parade it is almost necessary to camp out on the streets of Salt Lake City. You can not set up camp until after 6:00 pm the day before…so they say. You see rows and rows of chairs set up the day before. I guess chairs don’t officially count as “setting up camp”.
We have yet to camp overnight but I do go to the parade route in the VERY WEE hours of the morning to grab one of the last existing front row seats. Henry and Becca went with me this year and we found a spot just barely big enough for our air mattress. We set up and then tried to catch some shut eye since we had hours before the parade start time. I can now say I have officially slept on the streets of Salt Lake City!