The world seemed to descend upon Salt Lake City July 18 as young people carried flags or wore the costumes of many nations during the Days of '47 Youth Parade.
Some 5,000 children and youth from throughout Utah gathered for the annual event, which is held the Saturday before Pioneer Day, July 24. Some stakes looked to a growing worldwide Church for their themes. For instance, about 40 children from the Salt Lake Central Stake, with the theme, "Modern-Day Pioneers," wore costumes representing various countries. One boy, 9-year-old Cedric Wilson, wore the costume of his father's native Nigeria."It's kinda neat," he said, concerning his part in the parade. "You don't have to be a certain color or from a certain country [to be a modern-day pioneer]."
Some 250 children of the South Jordan Utah Riveridge Stake carried the flags of many nations and were dressed as missionaries. They marched, singing "Called to Serve."
It's such scenes that are the memories of Youth Parade chairwoman Norma Jones, who is stepping down after 16 years of chairing the parade committee. Each year, she told the Church News, she has enjoyed the "excitement of anticipating the joy of being with the children."
Many times over the years, she related, she has had adults tell her they remember being in the parade when they were children. "I will talk with one of the stake presidents whose stake is assigned to the parade, and he will then tell his Primary president, `We must do the parade because I remember when I was in the parade as a young boy, and the children will always remember it.' "
Sister Jones' voice broke with emotion as she spoke of her last day chairing the parade. "I feel a loss. I saw this tiny little girl with this bonnet on, and she was waving her hand. She must have been 2 years old. I'll always picture that little girl. When she passed me on the street, [it seemed] she was saying goodbye.
"This parade has been a great blessing in my life and my family's life. These are the special memories that are meaningful and will last all our lives."