Friday, July 4, 2008

Article #12-Old Fashioned Parades

The Fourth of July started early in our rural mining town in Eureka, Utah, with a sunrise surprise when four sticks of dynamite were exploded at a nearby mine. That got everyone's attention. Children's races began along the parade route on Main Street early in the morning. A variety of races were run: three legged, gunnysack, wheelbarrow, etc. for different age groups. The prizes were money--a dime for the winner, nickels for the runnerups and pennies for all who ran. I loved participating whether I won or not.

Next came the parade. A grand marshal and beauty queens on homemade floats started the parade and of course a color guard carrying the U.S. flag. Interspersed would be the local high school bands, veterans marching in their old uniforms, vintage cars, horses with beautiful saddles, antique carriages and fun clowns. Most of the town's children if they had a bike or scooter decorated it with red, white and blue crepe paper streamers and rode proudly in the parade.

Later in the day, there was a community picnic with a well attended softball game for local rival teams. Additional entertainment followed with a band concert and an evening dance at the Elks Pavilion. At dark, a simple fireworks show provided by families consisted of loud firecrackers and handheld sparklers with a bucket of water to douse them. A full day of activities and taking pride in being an American.

Another important parade day throughout Utah was and is Pioneer Day. I remember July 24th, 1947--the centennial celebration of the Mormon pioneers arrival in the Salt Lake valley. Flatbed wagons magically changed into covered wagons with the addition of a muslin cover stretched over some hoops. I pulled a small covered wagon in my pioneer costume made from my mom's kitchen curtains. Other children and adults dressed in old fashioned clothing rode wagons or pushed handcarts. Horseback riders were also part of the parade along with historical themed floats. Horse races and an exciting rodeo ended the day followed by more family provided fireworks.

When the Pioneer Day sesquicentennial came along in in 1997, I had learned more about my Mormon ancestors. After joining the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, I began to collect family histories and photos. My ancestors had come to Utah for many different reasons: some for religious freedom and others stopped here on their way to the Gold Rush in California. Because they all settled in Utah, married and raised families, I have a great heritage to emulate and honor.


  1. Small towns have the best parades. My daughter and her family will soon be heading to the Brush, CO parade. We've seen it twice and loved it. My mother will be attending the Molalla, OR parade this morning, along with my brother and his kids. No parade for me today, but I will get fireworks.
    Happy 4th.

  2. You were fortunate to live in a small town where children were encouraged to participate in the July parades. I believe that early link to our National birthday builds patriotism in young minds -- something that seems to be disappearing from today's society. When I retired from teaching just a few years ago, I was disheartened by the number of children that didn't understand love of country. I hope we aren't the last "flag waving" generation!

  3. We slept outside many nights during the summer. It was especially fun the night before Independence day, because they set off explosions at daybreak. It was exciting and mysterious--how many would set off, where were they? Of course we could have found the answers, but it was more fun to try and guess.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I grew up in California with HUGE Parades....think the "Rose Parade", here. It wasn't until after I got married and moved to North Ogden (which at the time, was a small farming community) that I learned to love hometown parades down Main Street USA. Kids riding their bikes with helium filled balloons flapping in the breeze. Volunteer firemen blaring the horn and siren to the delight of the little boys lining the streets. Local Dairy Days, Peach Days, Pickle Days or Cherry Days Queens waving awkwardly from the back of a truck. Clowns and cheerleaders throwing taffy into the crowds. It was such a delightful experience for me. And my children all loved taking part. Fond memories indeed!