Monday, July 25, 2011

DAYS OF 47' PARADE: Keeping traditions alive

photo taken of the street at the beginning of parade with the police escorting 
our church and state dignitaries on Monday  July 25, 2011 
photo of President Thomas S Monson waving to the crowd

A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind.

On July 24th, we celebrate the Mormon pioneers arrival into the Salt Lake Valley.  A parade was first held on July 24, 1849. It was then known as the "Pioneer Days Parade" up until 1931. From 1931 to 1946 the parade was known as the "Covered Wagon Days Parade". Since 1947 the parade has been known by its current name... the Days of 47' Parade.

 LDS ward and stakes always sponsor floats in the parade. Many hundreds of hours of volunteeer time are spent to decorate these floats depicting the theme each year.  Recently, the parade has become more inclusive, with other churches participating and celebrating their own Utah pioneers. One of the big crowd pleasers in the parade are the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. Television news personalities, Beauty Queens, and Government officials and the militiary also are a big part of the parade.  Of course it always includes the handcarts, horses, bands, and clowns for the children.

HOWEVER, while we keep most traditions alive. There is one tradition that has changed...which isn't surprising.. since most things change over time. Here is one example: The  Days of 47' Marathon Route. My wife and I ran this Marathon about 10 years ago. It is known by most as the Deseret News Marathon. The course was very difficult since there were grueling hills that traces the route the Mormon pioners took when they first arrived in the valley. The last miles are run along the parade route. It became known as "being too difficult".  My wife and I trained for months running parts of the course with my brother-in-law. We all finished the race. It was difficult, but the reward was great.

Over the years there has been a steady decline of runners. In order to make the race profitable and to encourage more participation, the course was changed to be alot easier. There are no more difficult mountains to summit. The course is mostly all downhill now.

We seem to avoid the difficult, the steep, and the painful.. for the easier, the gentle declines, and the more convenient. While we still have the tradition of this marathon. it is a different course. Not sure the reward is still the same however.

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