OGDEN -- Thousands turned out Wednesday for the Pioneer Day Grand Parade, to see more than 100 themed floats, high school bands, groups on horseback and other entries display their pride in Utah history.
This Pioneer Day marked the 166th anniversary of the arrival to Salt Lake Valley of church leader Brigham Young and the first group of pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We staked out our place last night," said Christy Halverson, of South Ogden, sitting in the shade of a small tent erected at Washington Boulevard and 31st Street, the starting point of the 11-block parade up Washington Boulevard. "We were lucky to find an empty spot, and that our stuff was still here in the morning."
Halverson sat with her husband, Ryan, and their four children.
"It's a great holiday to celebrate with family," Ryan Halverson said.
Karina Schaffer, 13, waited nearby for the parade's 9 a.m. start. She and four friends were dressed in pioneer-
inspired clothing and held a banner for the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
"I'm really excited to be in the parade again," said Karina, ready to take her second walk up the middle of Washington Boulevard. "I love to watch the people and bands warming up, getting ready. For my first parade, it was raining, and I was more nervous. This time, I know all I have to do is walk and smile."
The procession began on schedule with sirens and 11 officers on motorcycles, seven from the Ogden Police Department and four from the Weber County Sheriff's Office. Next were four uniformed officers from Hill Air Force Base, walking in unison as an honor guard. Parade Grand Marshal Craig Dearden was next, followed by Miss Rodeo America and her attendants, on horseback.
Large groups of faux pioneers walked the route, their true modern nature betrayed by their foot-friendly sneakers in white, brown and neon hues. Two trick riders stood tall atop their horses, their feet held by straps on either side of their saddles. Some groups handed out ice pops to children in the crowd. Ogden City Council members waved from classic cars.
Bands or cheerleaders attended from area high schools including Box Elder, Fremont, Ben Lomond, Ogden, Bonne-
ville, St. Joseph's and South Summit, and from Mount Ogden Junior High School. LDS wards, including many from Clinton, and several LDS stakes walked or rode floats, which were decorated as tributes to the hard work of pioneers and the church's work that continues today.
Ogden's LDS missionaries walked as a group, with women dressed conservatively and men in short-sleeved, white shirts and dark pants. All wore their black name tags, at shirt-pocket level, and all smiled and waved.
Dozens of area businesses sponsored floats or vehicles.
Students from Paul Mitchell School styled hair on a moving flatbed, and Country Dance Ogden members demonstrated fancy footwork and lifts on their truck.
Shriners circled in tiny cars.
Children looked upward at balloons loosed by mistake. Robin Terry Ferrin, a Roy native and Oregon resident, looked south, trying to spot her niece, walking with an LDS group entry.
"I haven't been here since high school, and it's pretty neat," said Ferrin, 56, her camera poised. "It brings back a lot of good memories."
Robert Orozco, 36, of Ogden, brought his young daughter and his toddler son to build new memories.
"It's a tradition for my family," Orozco said. "We've been coming for 20 years. I like the atmosphere and how everyone comes together. It brings out the goodness in people."
The final parade entries rolled onto the official parade route about 90 minutes after the first groups had left. Enormous tractors from the Weber County Farm Bureau and a truck representing the Utah Food Bank rolled forward about the same time as the members of the Hill Air Force honor guard returned, on foot, to find their transportation. Street-sweeping trucks stood by to scrub away lingering reminders of the horses in the parade.
"We loved the parade," Christy Halverson said. "There were great floats. We love to come and support the schools and all the entries. It was lots of fun."