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Days of '47 Youth Parade celebrates pioneers of then and now (+photos)

SALT LAKE CITY — Around 5,000 local youths celebrated their pioneer heritage Saturday morning by participating in the Days of ’47 Union Pacific Youth Parade. This year’s theme, "Pioneers — Forging a New Frontier," was displayed in different ways by the 49 parade entries.

The parade, which is one of the largest youth parades in the nation, has been a yearly tradition since 1938.

Utah locals Tim Christofferson and his daughter, Lisa, were the parade announcers. They started the day off by sharing the story of how the pioneers came to Utah.

Some floats featured photographs of pioneer ancestors. Others displayed technology of modern days, representing today’s pioneers. Other parade entries, including the Centro Civico Mexicano Group, Fonua and Kioa Family and the Peru Arts Group, showed their appreciation for their ancestors by wearing traditional native costumes and even performing dances.

Codie Taylor of Riverton, Utah, was attending the parade for the first time to watch her son participate: “Just the opportunity for the kids to do it is fun,” she said.

Greg James, who is on the Days of ’47 Board of Trustees and is a former president of the organization, said the parade has a “marvelous family spirit.” He enjoys seeing the children get excited about celebrating their ancestry in a time where it could easily be forgotten.

“It’s good to see kids who have so much technology every day get so much pleasure from something that isn’t technology, but is remembering the people who founded this state,” he said.

Four awards are given out each year to floats that display the pioneer spirit. The four awards went to floats from different stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Legacy Award went to the Sandy Utah Hillcrest Stake. The Spirit of Faith Award went to the Midvale Utah North Stake. The Theme Award went to the South Jordan Utah River Ridge Stake. The Utah Award went to the Wasatch Stake.

Utah native Nesha Smith walked in the parade with her two daughters. Their float, which was the Utah Award winner, featured a glittery beehive and sights from around the state. She called getting the Utah Award a “great accomplishment” for her stake.

Participating youth and paradegoers were asked to bring one canned food item to the event for the Utah Food Bank.

“We’re trying to get the kids to realize the pioneer children didn’t always have food when they were walking," said parade organizer Jodene Smith. "We asked them to bring food for children of today who they can help out.”