Days of ’47 Parade delights crowds with floats, music and much more

Emma Brando practices with the Davis High School color guard before the start of the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Saturday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of people lined the streets of downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday for the annual Days of ’47 Parade. Dozens more watched from balconies as announcers detailed all the proceedings.

But Olga Binkhurst danced like none of them were there.

The 80-year-old from Guatemala jammed on the corner of State Street and South Temple as the Viewmont High School marching band came down the road playing Weezer’s “Buddy Holly.”

Binkhurst, who came to the Beehive State in 1964, said she’s visited many places. “But Utah, to me, is the best,” she said. “The people are beautiful.”

She wasn’t the only one who felt that way. The Days of ’47 Parade was a riot of color, sound and celebration in honor of Utah’s pioneer heritage.

Nova Pendleton, Broc Pendleton, Sloan Senior and Sadie Owens react as they get sprayed with water while watching the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Nova Pendleton, Broc Pendleton, Sloan Senior and Sadie Owens react as they get sprayed with water while watching the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Saturday. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

The parade featured 37 floats, many sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and others created by businesses.

Jean Bingham, the church’s general Relief Society president, served as the parade’s grand marshall — the first woman to have the honor since the event began in 1849.

The grand marshal for the Days of '47 Parade, Relief Society President Jean B. Bingham of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her husband, Bruce Bingham, wave to paradegoers along the route on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
The grand marshal for the Days of ’47 Parade, Relief Society President Jean B. Bingham of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and her husband, Bruce Bingham, wave to paradegoers along the route on Saturday in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Kim Raff, for the Deseret News)

The parade started at 9 am on State Street and South Temple, ran down 200 East, then turned onto 900 South and ended at Liberty Park. The parade celebrates the Mormon pioneers, many of whom arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley after a trek across the plains on July 24, 1847, seeking to create a new life free of religious persecution.

“We believe the example of past and present pioneers’ courage creates a vision for our combined future that everyone can follow as our new pioneer spirit,” the Days of ’47 website states.

This year’s theme was “Pioneer Courage — Live it!” One float displayed Brigham Young University’s Cosmo the Cougar mascot; another featured the Chick-Fil-A cows. Some floats showed traditional pioneers in 1800s garb, while others emphasized that pioneers come from all over the world. And not one looked the same.

A float bedecked with characters from “The Wizard of Oz” won the People’s Choice Award, while another, featuring a lion and a bubble machine, received the Children’s Choice Award. Each float received the most votes in their respective categories from people attending the Parade Preview held July 18 and 19 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.

The parade also included dozens of entries like marching bands, horse riders, military groups and more. Many families camped out on the street the night before to get the best vantage points.

Kids reach out for high-fives from Utah Valley University float participants dressed in green during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Kids reach out for high-fives from Utah Valley University float participants dressed in green during the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Saturday. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Gov. Spencer Cox and his wife, first lady Abby Cox, were among the first in the parade procession. Later on, 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 bright, traditional clothing; and one girl in the Carbon High School marching band twirled a baton with a Tyrannosaurus rex on the top.

Adrianne Jenson brought her three children, ages 8, 6 and 3, from Idaho to see Saturday’s parade.

Jenson pioneer said she grew up in Utah and her family is descended from settlers.

Boise doesn’t have parades at all, she said, so when her daughter asked what a Pioneer Day parade is, she decided a weekend trip to Salt Lake City was in order.

Jenson’s kids had only one disappointment: None of the parade floats threw candy.

Members of the Americanas wave to paradegoers along the Days of '47 Parade route on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Members of the Americanas wave to paradegoers along the Days of ’47 Parade route on Saturday in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Kim Raff, for the Deseret News)

During the parade, the Salt Lake police stopped and cited a man who drove his car onto the blocked-off parade route.

The man, 47, officers approached at 10:15 am asking if he could go around a road closure to get to his nearby home. Police said he was told he could not, but the man later returned and tried to drive around a road closure, police said in a statement.

Shortly after he was told for a second time that he couldn’t access the parade route, police say he drove through an opening where parade staff and equipment was set up and was spotted driving slowly along the parade route. When officers ran over and ordered him to stop the car, the man allegedly began accelerating slowly near 150 E. 200 South.

“Due to the potential danger, officers opened the car door and successfully put the car in park and got the driver out without further incident,” police said in the statement.

The man was cited for failing to obey a traffic control device and unlawfully driving left of center.

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