BOUNTIFUL — As a sea of just more than 2,200 boys representing Helaman’s stripling warriors from the Book of Mormon marched down Main Street as part of Bountiful’s Handcart Days parade Friday night, spectators were in awe.
“When you hear the number is over 2,000 boys, it doesn’t seem like that much, but when you see that many together, you realize how large it really is,” said Farmington resident Traci Johnson, 43, who came to the parade specifically to see the massive entry.
Her husband, Mat, 47, commented that the group seemed to keep going and going.
“It kind of puts things into perspective when you see all these kids.”
It took approximately 15 minutes for the entire group of young men to get past the starting point of the parade at 1500 South on Main Street, which then traveled up to 400 North.
Julie Facer, co-director of Handcart Days, said the group considered applying to the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest nonmilitary parade entry but decided not to because of how consuming its efforts were just to just make sure the entry was a success.
“It’s amazing how many hours have been put into this because of the entry’s size,” said Facer, who also had a grandson marching with the group.
“A lot of people have risen to the occasion, including city officials, police officers and the thousands of mothers who had to sew up the outfits for the boys. It has been no small effort, but every great cause requires great effort.”
For Cory Hanks, who led the group dressed as Helaman, the event became bigger than expected.
“It’s so beyond the scope of any single person,” he said. “It’s about the entire community pulling off something big.”
Being a part of that something big was exactly why 18-year-old Marley Bell, of Bountiful, wanted to participate.
“As we are marching, you can feel the power of all of us who have come together for the same purpose,” he said.
“It brings the story to life for me. We’re just marching in a parade, but they were putting their lives on the line (in the Book of Mormon). They were doing it for their religion and defending their faith, and we’re showing the community what we believe.”
So many young men wanted to participate in the parade entry that even boys in wheelchairs took part.
Sam Gates, 17, has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since age 7, but he wasn’t going to miss out on this event with his buddies. He zip-tied his marching stick to his wheelchair, and his friends helped push him along the parade route.
“It makes me feel proud to be representing them (the stripling warriors) and their strength,” he said. “I like that we all volunteered and wanted to do this.”
Others who were participating with their high school marching bands near the front of the parade wanted to be included with the marching warriors.
They made arrangements for pickup trucks to take them from the end of the parade route back to the beginning to join the stripling warriors, who were waiting as the last entry of the parade.