clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


Utah collectively doffed its hat to history Monday, staging a plethora of picnics, park parties, parades and pioneer perspectives to last another year.

The annual Days of '47 parade was the frosting on the celebration cake, drawing tens of thousands to Salt Lake City's downtown area to cheer a three-hour lineup of floats, bands and novelties.And when the sky frowned a bit, everyone smiled. A gray patina of clouds shaved a few degrees off temperatures that have kept Utahns on the griddle for many rainless weeks. At midmorning, a comfy 76 degrees showed on downtown thermometers.

The morning cool was particularly welcomed by Deseret News Marathon and 10K runners. Marathon winner Dennis Rinde, Orangeville, Calif., chugged past the Deseret News building at about 7:25 a.m. with Salt Lake County sheriff's motorcycles blaring an escort.

He was cheered by workers from the Monument Park 9th Ward and Murray South Stake who were manning water stands to refresh the runners, but he didn't stop to drink.

Rinde went on to win the 1988 run at 2:22.34.

Earlier in the morning, Geir Kvernmo and Kellie Cathey had wrapped up first places in the men's and women's 10K races, respectively.

As for the parade, it was a colorful column that passed between tiers of people lined six to 10 deep along the route. Another year's worth of imaginative planning and plain hard work had produced unique floats that ranged from cute to astounding.

Willow Creek 6th Ward produced a first-place winner among the traditional floats representing events in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the history that ultimately led to Utah's creation.

The fanciful but reverent Willow Creek creation recalled the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. Five young people of the ward became angels to trumpet the good news from clouds piled high above a garden where John the Baptist presented the priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Jeanne Ludlow, one of a committee of nine that produced the float (with the help of about 30 workers), was sleepy but happy Monday as her group waved the trophy rewarding their efforts.

If you never saw a purple cow, this was the parade for you. There were pink sequined alligators, green and blue flamingos, feathery pink kiwis and a thousand other oddities to attract the eye.

On the more sedate side of the register was the elegant "Legacy of Beauty" float by Pool Display, a platform for this year's beauties, Days of '47 Queen Anne Madsen and her attendants, Elizabeth Nebeker and Maria Matthews. They waved to goggle-eyed admirers from a pink and lavender garden where peacocks spread sparkling tails.

Peacocks were, in fact, popular in 1988. Brigham City's fanciful version out-peacocked a peacock for glittery glitch, and Orem went them one better with a black, red and gold version.

The sweepstakes float was a dramatic blue, white and gold depiction of the exodus of Mormon pioneers from Nauvoo, Ill. Its creator, Doug Jordan of Bountiful Central Stake, was in tears of joy all morning.

The crowd saved its loudest cheers for its favorite folks, TV personalities and the Utah Jazz, who _ what else _ rode on a float with a free-swinging jazz band.

Among dignitaries who rode the route were LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson, Gov. Norm Bangerter and wife Colleen, Utah's congressional delegation, county and city officials, Utah's Olympic archer Denise Parker and Days of '47 committee members, including parade chairman Jerry Dunyon, who was seeing the culmination of months of work.

The festivities began long before the parade. For several days, enthusiasts have been staking claims to prime parade-watching property along Main Street and Ninth South. By Monday morning, the campers had disposed of enough litter to have kept pioneer campfires going clear across the plains.

Salt Lake Police Officer Robert Rackley wasn't celebrating after a night when "we had up to 15 calls waiting. It was chaotic," he reported. "We had near-riots, beer drinking and a guy got bashed in the head. Both he and the guy who was arrested for hitting him ended up in the hospital. This used to be fun, but . . . "

Another sour note was a stabbing at Seventh South and Third East Sunday evening that left a victim in serious condition.

But the parade itself was a no-bad-news, fun-for-all heyday.

For 1988, chalk up these moments to remember:

_The handicapped clown in the green wig who motored down the street dusting kids' knees and teaching them that handicap is only what you make it.

_The Grantsville High School tuba player, about 5-foot-not-much who forgot to remember he had to carry that thing for two miles.

_The black-and-white uniformed Thermopolis, Wyo., band, back for its umptieth season _ and a contingent from Racine, Wis., touring the West and here for its first.

_The Humane Society float that featured puppies who were available for adoption and kittens (human) who were not.

_The handcart units that started fresh at South Temple and arrived at Liberty Park feeling like they'd crossed the plains.