BOUNTIFUL -- This year's Bountiful Handcart Days Parade wasn't just a Pioneer Day Parade. For a parade that has been around for more than 30 years, this year's committee decided to take things to a new level, focusing on the community pulling together.
Several new groups joined the parade lineup.
"We're going back to featuring the whole community and not just one religion, so the community as a whole is participating," said Lowell Hadley, co-chairman of the parade.
With more than 250 volunteers making up 13 committees and planning that started eight months ago, it all came down to Tuesday night's hour-and-a-half-long parade along Main Street.
One of the VIPs leading out the parade was Father Rene Rodillas, from St. Olaf's Catholic Church in Bountiful. This year is the first time St. Olaf's has participated in the parade.
"It's exciting to join up with the parade, because we have a Catholic school here and a good number of Catholics that belong to this community -- so we're excited to be a part of this community and parade," Rodillas said.
The Freemasons are another group in the parade for the first time. The Bountiful Masonic Families Lodge has been here since the early 1960s, and members are hoping to make the parade an annual tradition.
With Freemasons known for building foundations, its float consisted of several hand-built brick walls, referring to the group's legacy and future of building on families.
"We feel we are a big part of the Bountiful community and feel there is a good chance people don't know we're here, so we want to let people know we are here with open doors," said Mark Nelson, master of the lodge.
The parade, with more than 90 entries, was filled with traditional parade offerings -- floats, horses, clowns, bands, military, police, fire and city officials, all reaching out to different aspects of the community.
Annie Bennett, of Bountiful, has lived all over the country, but said she loves the small-town feel of Bountiful and the sense of togetherness created by the city and its annual parade.
"We see a lot of people we know in the parade through sports, community events, school or church, and there is just something about Bountiful that makes it feel like we're a family here," Bennett said.
Her 14-year-old son Christian agreed, saying the parade makes him feel good about the community, though his favorite part is the candy -- and it has been every one of the 14 years he has been attending the parade.
Another interesting entry in the parade was the "Ride of Pride," a fully decked-out front cab of a semitrailer designed by Schneider National as a rolling tribute to members of the military.
In bright colors etched on the side of the cab, embedded next to an eagle and American flag, are the words, "Those who serve deserve honor, respect, and thanks, in memoriam of deceased veterans."
Driving the cab was Chuck Ceccacci, who drove nearly 2,000 miles from his home base in Georgia to participate in the parade. He travels with the truck all over the nation and has had tear-filled encounters along the way.
"It's like putting my uniform back on and gives me a sense of duty to honor all of our veterans," said Ceccacci, who served in the Marines for nine years.
"Looking into the eyes of a mom or dad, who are the real patriots for allowing their son or daughter to pay the ultimate price, and having them thank me, blows me away."