SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds marched through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City Saturday for the annual 1947 Days Parade. Dozens more watched from balconies as announcers detailed all the proceedings.
But Olga Binkhurst danced as if none of them were there.
The 80-year-old Guatemalan got stuck at the corner of State Street and South Temple as the Viewmont High School Marching Band marched down the road playing Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.”
Binkhurst, who arrived in the Beehive State in 1964, said she visited many places. “But Utah, to me, is the best,” she said. “People are beautiful.”
She wasn’t the only one feeling this. The 47 Days Parade was a riot of color, sound and celebration honoring Utah’s pioneer heritage.
The parade featured 37 floats, many sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others created by corporations.
Jean Bingham, general president of the church’s Relief Society, was the grand marshal of the parade – the first woman to have the honor since the event began in 1849.
The parade started at 9 a.m. on State Street and South Temple, traveled down 200 East, then turned onto 900 South and ended at Liberty Park. The parade celebrates Mormon pioneers, many of whom arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley after hiking across the plains on July 24, 1847, seeking to create a new life free from religious persecution.
“We believe that the example of courage from past and present pioneers creates a vision for our combined future that everyone can follow as our new pioneer spirit,” states the Days of ’47 website.
This year’s theme was “Pioneer Courage — Live it!” A float featured Brigham Young University’s mascot Cosmo the Cougar; another featured Chick-Fil-A cows. Some floats showed traditional pioneers in 1800s costume, while others emphasized that pioneers came from all over the world. And none were alike.
A float featuring “Wizard of Oz” characters won the People’s Choice Award, while another featuring a lion and a bubble machine won the Kids’ Choice Award. Each float received the most votes in their respective categories from people attending the parade preview held July 18-19 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.
The parade also included dozens of entries like marching bands, horsemen, military bands and more. Many families camped on the street the night before to get the best vantage points.
Governor Spencer Cox and his wife, First Lady Abby Cox, were among the frontrunners in the parade. Later, Utah Congressmen Burgess Owens and John Curtis waved to the crowd from red 1966 Mustangs.
Representatives from the Mexican Consulate dazzled the crowd with their brightly colored traditional attire; and a girl from the Carbon High School marching band twirled a stick with a Tyrannosaurus rex on top.
Adrianne Jenson brought her three children, ages 8, 6 and 3, from Idaho to see the parade on Saturday.
Jenson said she grew up in Utah and her family descended from pioneer settlers.
Boise doesn’t have any parades at all, she said, so when her daughter asked what a Pioneer Day parade was, she decided a weekend in Salt Lake City was to bet.
The Jenson kids had only one disappointment: none of the floats in the parade threw candy.