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Big Pioneer Day celebrations are back. See Days of ’47 parade floats and more

Until the COVID-19 pandemic, the Days of ‘47 Parade had only ever been canceled during World War I and World War II.

SHARE Big Pioneer Day celebrations are back. See Days of ’47 parade floats and more
A young girl holds her younger brother while standing next to a parade float.

Sophie Hirschi, 7, holds her brother, Bennett, 3, while checking out a float by First Community Bank during the Days of ’47 Float Preview Party at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The Days of ’47 Parade — one of the oldest parades in the United States that typically brings more than 200,000 to downtown Salt Lake City — is back after a 2020 hiatus.

“Last year was a rough year, as we all know, and we’re back and bigger than ever,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said earlier this week to mark the return of the Days of ’47 festivities, KSL reported. “This is about the history and the heritage of our state ... and this is the one opportunity we have every year for all of Utah to come together and celebrate this Western heritage that is ours.”

The first Days of ’47 Parade occurred on July 24, 1849 — two years after Latter-day Saint pioneers first settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Over the years, the parade has become a yearly tradition for many families in Utah — one that involves camping out the night before to secure a spot along the parade route, the Deseret News reported.

Phil Brown and his wife, Mary, have camped out for the parade for 20 years, typically arriving around 9 a.m. the day before the parade.

“Most of the time everybody stays up all night,” Phil Brown told the Deseret News last year. “I’m 82, my wife is 80 and I remember maybe five times where I’ve ever fallen asleep.”

That tradition came to a halt last year. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade had only ever been canceled during World War I and World War II, the Deseret News reported. In 2020, families created their own fun and turned to smaller gatherings and activities to celebrate pioneer heritage.

Now, the Days of ’47 festivities and other Pioneer Day traditions across the state are returning in full force. Some floats in Friday’s Days of ’47 parade have been two years in the making — including a large riverboat created by the Draper Utah Stake that was initially started by Bob Bradshaw, who died earlier this year from pancreatic cancer.

“Everything that he did, he put his heart into,” float volunteer Craig Fisher told KSL-TV.

Other floats to look out for on Friday include a “Light the World” carousel that celebrates Utah’s humanitarian efforts; giant puppets riding a covered wagon; the Delicate Arch; a depiction of renovations on the Salt Lake Temple; and a globe that marks the locations of Latter-day Saint temples throughout the world.

Here’s a breakdown of Days of ’47 events and other Pioneer Day celebrations taking place this weekend.

Note: This list is not all-inclusive, and will be updated as new information comes in. Please send any events listing to features@deseretnews.com.

Days of ’47

  • Cowboy games and rodeo take place now through July 24 at the Utah State Fairpark, according to Daysof47.com. Event times vary.
  • Deseret News Marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K take place on Friday. The marathons begin at 5:30 a.m; 10K at 6 a.m.; and 5K at 7 a.m. Races start near Emigration Canyon and the University of Utah’s Research Park.
  • Sunrise Service takes place Friday, 7 a.m., at theAssembly Hall on Temple Square.
  • The Days of ’47 Parade takes place Friday at 9 a.m. in downtown Salt Lake City. The route starts at South Temple and State, runs east to 200 East, turns south to 900 South, and then east to Liberty Park.

Visit Daysof47.com to view a map of the parade and marathon routes.

Pioneer Days at This is the Place Heritage Park

  • Pioneer Days at This is the Place Heritage Park runs from July 23 to July 24. Activities include pioneer games, a candy-shooting cannon, train rides, arts and crafts projects and more, according to thisistheplace.org.

Provo Pioneer Day

  • Provo’s annual Pioneer Day celebration takes place July 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kiwanis Park. The event includes games, live music, food trucks, animals and the new Children’s Entrepreneurship Market that will feature more than 100 youth vendors, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Orem Pioneer Day Celebration

  • Pioneer Day events in Orem include live music, food, bounce houses, games, a pie-eating contest and fireworks. Events take place at the Orchard at University Place.

Heber Valley Railroad’s Fiddlers ’n Fireworks

  • Heber Valley Railroad is celebrating Pioneer Day with its annual evening train ride on July 24. In addition to a two-hour train ride, the event also includes a fried chicken dinner at the depot and music from the Utah Old Time Fiddlers, according to the event’s website.

Bountiful Handcart Days

  • Although the parade and park activities for Bountiful’s Handcart Days has been canceled, there will still be a fireworks display on July 24 at Mueller Park Jr. High, according to the event’s website. South Davis Recreation will host Handcart Day races on the morning of July 24.

Ogden Pioneer Days

Ogden’s Pioneer Days runs from now through July 24. Events take place at Pioneer Stadium and include concerts, firework shows, art strolls, parades and a rodeo, according to the event’s website.

Pioneer Day Festival

  • The Pioneer Day Festival in Wellsville, Cache County, will feature everything from milking cows to a children’s pioneer parade highlighting decorated bikes and wagons. Events run July 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at American West Heritage Center.

Logan City Pioneer Day Celebration

  • The city of Logan will celebrate Pioneer Day at Willow Park all day on July 24. Activities include games, a Pioneer Day parade, candy cannon, trampoline show, a performance from Ryan Shupe & The Rubberband and a fireworks display.

Spring City Pioneer Day

  • Although the fireworks have been canceled because of drought conditions and fire danger, Spring City is still celebrating Pioneer Day through July 25 with a parade, games — including a corn hole tournament — ice cream and more.