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Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Here is why politics and Days of '47 Parade don't mix

Published: Sunday, July 22 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Boyscouts and clowns parade down Second East at the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City Saturday, July 24, 2010.

Sarah A. Miller, Deseret News archives

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For some strange reason, the Days of '47 Parade Committee has never liked mixing pioneers and politics. Politically-oriented floats have been banned from the big July 24 parade.

It probably goes back to the days when Brother Brigham rode in the parade with a sign saying, "Vote for Brigham for Territorial Governor — or receive a call to settle Panaca."

True, prominent incumbents can ride in the parade and wave at the crowd, but nothing politically overt is allowed. The no-politics rule, however, hasn't prevented politicians and organizations from proposing floats and themes. Here are some that have been rejected by the committee:

Mitt Romney applied for a float permit displaying a full-size cardboard cutout of President Obama holding a sign saying, "You didn't build Zion . . . somebody else made that happen."

President Obama wanted to enter a float with a big sign saying, "Mitt Romney: He outsources jobs, shuts down businesses — and swears at Utah Olympics volunteers."

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker wanted to dress as an English nanny, leading an army of bicyclists holding banners proclaiming, "Welcome to Salt Lake City. Please do not idle your car, seek cheap parking, drive in a bike lane, eat red meat, cross the street without an orange flag, say anything politically incorrect, drink bottled water, hope for lower taxes, consume sugar, shop online or otherwise conduct yourself like you're from the suburbs. But, hey, have fun!"

Sen. Orrin Hatch really wanted a float portraying himself as Captain America (born in the 1930s but in peak fighting form in 2012) hoisting a shield made of music CDs and nutritional supplements, with a banner proclaiming, "Orrin 2012 — Meaner, tougher and hungrier than ever, ready to slay another Democratic president from outer space!"

Hatch's Democratic challenger Scott Howell, demanding to debate Hatch in every county in Utah, wanted to feature his boxing theme. He requested a float with himself in boxing shorts and gloves, demonstrating fancy footwork among pugilistic banners: "I'll send Hatch to St. Peter in Cedar." "I'll use a cleaver in Beaver." "I'll give him the jab in Kanab." And, of course, "The thrilla in Tooele."

Gov. Gary Herbert proposed a float with a "Gary Against the World" theme, featuring himself as Orrin Porter Rockwell, doing battle with right-wingers, left-wingers, federal bureaucrats, radical environmentalists and people who start fires.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke wanted to wear his two-star general, Army Reserve uniform, surrounded by other costumed soldiers, with the slogan "Cooke declares war on Republican mismanagement: political imbalance, huge fireworks, large class sizes and out-of-control wildfires."

Eagle Forum Pres. Gayle Ruzicka wanted her entire family and followers in pioneer garb atop a float with the banner, "Holding firm to 1847 culture in 2012 and beyond."

Brandie Balken, president of Equality Utah (Utah's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group) wanted to stand on a huge pedestal on a float over a banner that reads, "Welcome to Salt Lake City … this is the place … and we own it."

Utah Democratic Chair Jim Dabakis wanted to sit among the number of volunteers filling sandbags below the banner, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." Utah Democrats are ready for the Romney Tsunami."

Utah Republican Chair Thomas Wright wanted to dress in a seagull costume, shouting, "Democrats are the crickets … Republicans are the seagulls!"

Democratic Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Ben McAdams tried to get a float entered with himself dressed in his missionary suit (which still fits), along with Marlin Jensen, soon to be an emeritus LDS general authority, standing in his dark suit and tie, featuring a sign saying, "We're Democrats. You can be one, too. Would you like to learn more?"

Republican Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Mark Crockett wanted to drive a covered wagon with a sign on each side stating, "Brother Brigham may have divided congregations into Republicans and Democrats — but we're all Republicans now."

Pignanelli and Webb tried to get on a float labeled, "Your Favorite Columnists," but the Parade Committee quickly nixed that bright idea. They did say we could be contained in a cage on a float with a large sign saying, "Please do not feed these political animals." We agreed, if we could scribble underneath the sign, "Just throw candy (preferably chocolate)." Oops, that's against parade rules.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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