“Saints Celebrate Pioneer Day,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 75
In Utah, July 24 is Pioneer Day—a state holiday celebrated with parades, fireworks, picnics, and other festivities. However, Saints in other places also celebrate the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.
This year, President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Marjorie, rode near the front of Salt Lake City’s annual Days of ’47 Parade. Numerous entries in the parade commemorated the centennial of the Salt Lake Temple. The Taylorsville Twenty-fifth Ward, Taylorsville Utah West Stake, won the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers award with its depiction of the railroad beginning to transport granite blocks from the canyon quarries to the valley below. Another Taylorsville stake, the South stake, showed the temple capstone and angel Moroni statue being lowered into place. Other floats featured Church-related subjects, including the establishment of a tithing yard overlooking the Jordan River, and early African-American Saints.
In all, the parade featured about 130 entries, including marching bands, horse teams, antique cars, and horse-drawn wagons.
Earlier that morning, some 250 early risers listened to Elder Lloyd P. George of the Seventy deliver a tribute to the pioneers during a sunrise service. Elder George spoke of the early pioneers who sacrificed in many ways, sometimes giving their own lives.
A week prior to the Days of ‘47 parade, another parade was held in Salt Lake City. The parade, once a Church-oriented event but now a community activity, this year involved approximately 4,500 children and youth and comprised seventy-five entries, including thirty-three floats. Participants in the annual Days of ‘47 Youth Parade marched for six blocks and were rewarded with treats and certificates.
Parades and celebrations were held across the United States. Originally the Papillion Nebraska Stake planned a day of festivities at the Glenwood Lakes Park in Glenwood, Iowa, a settlement established by the pioneers. But rain forced a change of plans, and members met at the stake center instead. Spirits were not dampened by the weather, however: many members showed up in pioneer garb, indoor and outdoor games provided entertainment, and that evening a community concert was held.
In California, members of the Sacramento California Stake met to participate in their annual Pioneer Day service project. This year members cleaned up a park and nature area in downtown Sacramento. After working for several hours cleaning up, they met for a picnic and entertainment.
Five thousand members in the Bakersfield California Region gathered at the Kern County Pioneer Village, where they participated in a children’s parade, played pioneer games, and enjoyed live entertainment.
Members producing the first annual Missouri Youth Pioneer Pageant expected one thousand people to show up in Branson for an evening of singing and dancing. Instead, approximately four thousand people attended. Organizers estimate that 60 percent of the audience were not members of the Church.
Pioneer Day is a new concept for many converts in the New York New York Stake, yet members met at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Activities included softball, volleyball, and other games. Children made sunbonnets and crafts such as log cabins constructed of twigs and clay.