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Pioneer pride: Parade floats seem to be welcoming the world to Salt Lake

SHARE Pioneer pride: Parade floats seem to be welcoming the world to Salt Lake

A couple of judges walked up with a yellow banner designating the Huck Finnish, kid-fishin'-on-a-live-burbling-river float of West Bountiful Stake as a Days of '47 Parade winner Tuesday.

A huge "yee-haw" started up, then stopped in mid-"yee."

Oops, not so fast, the judge said.

Wrong float.

"Talk about prying someone's fingers from the prize," said Dwayne Hughes, tool belt strapped to his side as the Mr. Fixit, should anything needing tinkering on the float.

"My tear stains were on that banner as they took it away," said Bonnie Sorenson, chairwoman of the West Bountiful float committee.

But let there be no wailing nor lamentation in fair West Bountiful.

Yes, it turned out that particular award — Daughters of the Utah Pioneers — didn't belong to Sorenson and Hughes and Co., but two of the top four awards handed out did, including the No. 1 prize, the Days of '47 Sweepstakes Award. By the time judges also added the Outstanding Animation Award, huzzahs were back in business with the West Bountiful bunch.

"We went from 'awww' to 'all right,' " Sorenson said.

"Now it's party time!" yelled Keith Maloy, a free-lance artist who designed the float, "Sharing Roots From All Nations."

And party time in West Bountiful would be?

"Water fight with the water from the float," said Mike Sorenson, Bonnie's husband and co-float-chair.

"Sit around and watch the chrome rust. We're exciting," deadpanned Hughes.

"Sleep," said Amber Lusk, the Sorensons' daughter who, along with her husband, Mike Lusk, served as "walkers" beside the float.

Building a winning float, out of more than 110 entries, means not a great lot of shut-eye. The West Bountiful creation featured 16 kids from different countries, nine animated: the Spanish and African ones teeter-tottering together, the Polynesian kid kicking his feet through a tire swing, the Huck kid from America fishing on a flowing-water setting rigged from scratch by Wade George and George Thomas from the West Bountiful Stake.

"We'd guesstimate about 1,200 hours," Bonnie Sorenson said of time spent on the float.

"That's a lot of people doing a lot of work," Myra Salmon said, clutching a photo album containing pictures and signatures of the 354 persons who contributed significant time.

"It's the first time we know of that our stake has done a float. I'd say it was all more than worthwhile," Bonnie Sorenson said.

That went also for the Midvale North Stake, which won another of the big four, the Ensign Award. The float, "Bridging Cultures Over Time," consisted of an old-timey train engine, a car bearing a bridge on which stood townspeople representing decades of trades and professions, and a TRAX caboose symbolizing new folks in town.

"We go all the way back to 1893 when my dad started the Jordan Nursery," said Paul Glover, pointing to son Brandon, 23, up on the bridge car, a fifth-generation Glover with one foot planted solidly in Midvale heritage, the other in the nursery tradition.

"I think it's special to be up here standing for that long line in our family," said Brandon, brandishing a shovel.

Back in the TRAX car was Robert Kagabo, a Brigham Young University microbiology student from Kampala, Uganda.

"I'm happy to ride the train. People of this town are very friendly to people like me and always seem to make me feel welcome," Kagabo said.

"That's why I'm most proud for our people who worked so hard and won this award," said Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini. "We live in an ideal valley where neighbors care about each other and people come from all over. That's our strength."

Another float along the all-aboard theme, "From Footsteps to Friendships," won three awards for Sandy Granite Stake — the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Award, People's Choice and Children's Choice Awards.

"The kids in the Primary came up with our idea," said Von McAllister, who helped with the engineering on the Sandy Granite float, marked by cowboy boots, wooden shoes, Japanese shoes and others from many nation. The centerpiece was a young man fitting his sneakers on the feet of a young lady from India sitting in a swing.

"It's the whole idea of friendship to all, with the world coming to Utah," McAllister said of the 2002 Olympic Games.

The come-one, come-all themes dominating the floats put an extra smile on Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson's face.

"That's the thing I really like about this year's parade — the feeling of inclusiveness," Anderson said, punching a fist toward the perfect blue sky from the back of a sporty red convertible rolling along the parade route lined with an estimated 200,000 spectators.

"We have a stunning day and a wonderful celebration — another great day for our city," Anderson said.

It was a day completing a perfect circle of sorts for Marv Jenkins, who stood by his baby, the Mormon Meteor III, waiting for it to hit the parade route. Marv's dad, Ab Jenkins, rode the Meteor to 24-hour and one-hour speed records in 1940 and 1950 respectively, over the Bonneville Salt Flats.

"Took about 7,000 hours to restore her to her glory," Marv Jenkins said of the Meteor, making its first parade appearance since 1971.

Even more important, Marv's wife, Noma, was riding in the white Thunderbird ahead of the Meteor. She was the queen of the 1941 Days of '47 Parade. Marv's mom, Evelyn, told him she'd seen the girl he was going to marry in that parade. Not long after, they were on their way to a marriage going on 60 years.

"We've been back maybe two other times since the '41 parade," said Noma, a St. George native. "But this parade today, looking out over all this color and beauty — I think this is the biggie, the best parade of all."

E-MAIL: gtwyman@desnews.com