SALT LAKE CITY — Jessica and Clint Warner said they both began coming to the Days of '47 Parade as children. For Clint Warner, his first was when he was 6 years old.

Now with four kids of their own, the husband and wife of Stansbury Park restarted that tradition Tuesday, their first parade since moving back to Utah after spending eight years in New Hampshire.

"We wanted to start bringing our kids," Jessica Warner said, grinning. "I told them this morning, 'Hurry I have a big surprise for you! I'm going to take you to the biggest parade you've ever seen.'"

"They were real thrilled," her husband said sarcastically.

The Real Salt Lake float wins the President's Award in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
The Real Salt Lake float wins the President's Award in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

"Well, they weren't thrilled about getting out of bed," she said, laughing. "But they're excited now that we're here."

They arrived just in time for the parade to start, snagging a shaded spot along 200 East.

Their 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, grinned as she chimed in, sitting on her dad's lap while her siblings sat sprawled on a blanket.

"I like the police," she said, as the Utah Highway Patrol motorcycles rounded the corner.

"She wants to be a cop," Warner explained over the motorcycles' roars, quipping: "She wants to arrest her dad."

Sil Lum Kung Fu Kwoon lion head dancers perform in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Sil Lum Kung Fu Kwoon lion head dancers perform in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The Warner family laughed and joked with each other as they enjoyed Tuesday's parade — one of the country's oldest — in downtown Salt Lake City in celebration of Utah's pioneer heritage.

The Warners said they both have ancestral ties to pioneers.

Mormon pioneers — coming by covered wagon, handcarts and on foot — first settled in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Two years after, they began celebrating with an annual parade.

About 170 years later, the tradition remains strong — this year drawing more than 250,000 attendees, according to parade organizers' estimates.

Army Sgt. Ben Winn helps carry Follow the Flag, the largest free flying American flag in the world, during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Army Sgt. Ben Winn helps carry Follow the Flag, the largest free flying American flag in the world, during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | James Wooldridge, Deseret News

Between jokes, Clint Warner became teary when he said it was his own father who began the family tradition years ago. His wife explained his father had passed away recently.

"The tradition was the Days of '47 rodeo and the parade. My dad was real big on that," he said. "Family was important to him and that was what our family did. It's a memory that "

He trailed off and paused, wiping his eyes.

"To me, this is tying it back to him," he said.

Other families like the Warners thought of their own heritage — and religion — while enjoying Tuesday's parade.

Niki Taukeiaho dances in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Niki Taukeiaho dances in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Cindy Taufa, of Salt Lake City, said she and her eight kids — ranging in age from 2 to 15 — pitched a tent along 900 South at 4 p.m. Monday and spent the night preparing to watch the parade the next morning.

Taufa said it's been a yearly tradition for her family ever since they moved to Utah from California in 2012. She placed a hand on her heart as the Sons of the Utah Pioneers marched by carrying dozens of American flags.

She noted her family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Alex Saville, center, and others with Utah Healing Field wave American flags the during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Alex Saville, center, and others with Utah Healing Field wave American flags the during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | James Wooldridge, Deseret News

"It strengthens our testimony," she said of the parade. "It helps my kids understand a little bit more about the history of the pioneers and the whole celebration of it. It helps them appreciate it more. And the sacrifice."

Taufa also said her kids get excited when Tongan bands march by, noting her family has Tongan roots.

Tuesday's parade included a mashup of diversity, from groups including the Mormon Battalion and the Sons of Utah Pioneers — pulling handcarts and dressed in traditional pioneer garb — to the Liahona marching band, with hula dancers.

Ryan Terry waves a Real Salt Lake flag during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Ryan Terry waves a Real Salt Lake flag during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | James Wooldridge, Deseret News

The parade's route was lined with umbrellas, tents, blankets and chairs, with many like Taufa who set up camp the night.

There were 116 entries in this year's parade, according to Jodene Smith, the parade's co-chairwoman.

"It went well," Smith said. "It's great that our state remembers where our roots started, and I think it's wonderful that everybody comes to either watch or participate in the celebration and just make it a very family-oriented, community celebration."

Civil Air Patrol Utah Wing cadets march the colors in the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Civil Air Patrol Utah Wing cadets march the colors in the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | James Wooldridge, Deseret News

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, was honored as the parade's grand marshal.

Other dignitaries included Gov. Gary Herbert, who waved from the back of a white convertible with his wife, Jeanette, and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who waved alongside her wife, Betty Iverson.

"Enjoy the day, remember the legacy, and do your part," the governor said into a KSL-TV camera during the parade. "We all are pioneers whether your sixth generation like us or first generation. People are moving to Utah, you can help strengthen our communities and kind of blaze the trail for those who come after."

The Woods Cross North Stake float wins the People's Choice Award in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
The Woods Cross North Stake float wins the People's Choice Award in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

President Donald Trump issued a statement Tuesday in celebration of Pioneer Day, acknowledging the "difficult journey" the pioneers took.

"Our nation honors the ingenuity, industry and unwavering commitment to faith of all those who endured frontier hardships," Trump said. "These pioneers worked tirelessly to transform the arid desert landscape into a blossoming new home where their families could live in peace and prosperity. The legacy they helped build across the American West lives on through hundreds of cities and towns that continue to thrive in the 21st century.

Spectators stand for the passing of Utah Healing Field's American flags during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
Spectators stand for the passing of Utah Healing Field's American flags during the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. | James Wooldridge, Deseret News

"Today, we remember the extraordinary pioneers who uprooted their lives and undertook an incredible leap of faith into the unknown," the president said. "Their stories and accomplishments are lasting reminders of the importance of religious freedom and the enduring strength and spirit of the American people."