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2,000 'Stripling Warriors' march down Main Street in Bountiful

BOUNTIFUL — Two thousand, two hundred "Stripling Warriors" marched down Main Street in Bountiful at the end of the city's annual Handcart Days parade.

The young men, dressed as figures from the Book of Mormon story "The Sons of Helaman," were from more than 18 Latter-day Saint stakes in the Bountiful area.

Their "float" consisted of 220 rows of young men with staff-like spears standing 10 abreast, stretching more than 1,200 feet down the street.

"I saw an opportunity for my kids to live the scriptures," Richard Kaufusi, stake president of the LDS Salt Lake Cannon Stake said. "I just sit back and think how did this guy Helaman make this work with 2,000 boys."

The mastermind of the group of young men, Cory Hanks, who was also the head of the group dressed as Helaman, said he came up with the idea about 15 years ago and thought how cool it would be to put such a group together, not because of the size but because of the meaning.

"It would unite a community, unite 2,000 boys and 2,000 moms and dads," he said, adding that the event had been months in the making. "They've been practicing in pods, by stakes and by wards."

In preparation for the parade, the community of LDS wards and stakes had at least two practices with the whole group, but individual stakes and wards have been practicing for more than three months. Volunteers cut more than 5,500 yards of fabric and more than 2,200 sticks for the young men.

"I'm amazed that they put together such a huge gathering of youth," Stephen McLaughlin, one of the 2,000 "Sons of Helaman," said.

Lymon and Linda Jackson, who have missed the parade the passed few years, said they came to see the boys.

"I wanted to see the Stripling Warriors," Linda Jackson said. "It's the first year we've had a chance to see it in a few years."

Bountiful's 62nd annual Handcart Days Grand Parade this year had more than 85 entries, but the one-time-only "Sons of Helaman" entry was what drew the crowds.

"We happened to get here just as they decided to let people sit on the street," Jan Stringham, who was on Main Street at 7:30 a.m. to mark her spot, said. "We've gone off and on for 20 years, we wanted to see the Stripling Warriors (this year)."

Twitter: @FinleyJY