BOUNTIFUL -- It is a parade entry like no other -- one that has never been done before and likely will never be attempted again.
The last entry in Bountiful's Handcart Days parade on Friday will feature more than 2,000 young men representing Helaman's stripling warriors as depicted in the Book of Mormon. The unofficial slogan, according to Danny Brock, chairman of the committee piecing together the massive parade entry during the last several months, is "Never before, never again."
The logistics of getting a parade entry of this magnitude set up requires a staggered drop-off time for the young men, beginning two hours before the parade starts at 6 p.m.
Just to accommodate their large group, they will be providing a dozen portable bathrooms with watering stations. The parade will run along Main Street from 1500 South to 400 North.
"We're kind of a parade in and of itself, with a committee of 20 people just for this one entry," Brock said. "We've heard about two other groups trying to do this, but they never pulled it off. We're going to pull it off, and as far as I know, it's never been done before."
What began as a spark of an idea more than 10 years ago, when Brock saw a similar enactment done with 300 boys, has turned into a reality. Brock plans to exceed the 2,060 number of warriors, known in the scriptures for their fearless courage and strength.
It is expected that 2,300 young men, ranging in age from 11 to 30, will participate in the march, with boys from Davis and Salt Lake counties, many of whom called and requested to be a part of the event. The group will span the distance of four football fields.
The young men practiced their marching cadence and chant Saturday. As the group marches Friday, they will each be carrying 8-foot-tall walking sticks. The sticks were decorated by each individual with fabric, carvings and feathers, and will be dropped to the ground every few steps. The marchers will then stop and chant "We did not doubt" several times along the parade route.
Brock suggested that the chants, followed by the thunderous clash of sticks connecting with cement, could be heard from several blocks away during practice. While working with the boys, Brock and Cory Hanks, the president of Bountiful South Stake who will be leading the group as Helaman, were wondering if the boys were going to catch on to the timing of the chant.
Brock said that as they would get one section of marchers working together, another section would be stick fighting.
"It was like herding cats at a gigantic Scout camp with 20 of us trying to make sense of it all," said Brock.
The moment Brock and Hanks realized it would be worth all of their efforts was when they looked to the sidewalk while the young men marched by and saw the sidewalk lined with mothers, tears streaming down their faces. It was then that Brock said to Hanks, "Look at this. Who cares about cadence? Look at what we have done."
The impact their entry is going to have on the crowd will be phenomenal, Brock said, even if it's crowded.
Bob Rose, the Handcart Parade Committee chairman, said a larger crowd than usual is expected. Usually, the parade draws about 20,000 to 30,000 people. Rose said they are preparing for another 10,000 parade attendees, because of the stripling warrior entry.
To accommodate all of the extra people who will be picking up their sons from the parade, the warriors will continue marching past the end of the parade route, turning on 200 West and marching to 1000 North.
Organizers know the experience will be worth the effort.
"This is going to be an outstanding memory we will never forget," said Rose. "Just to see what can happen when people with a vision put their mind into doing something has been amazing to us."