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500 pioneers converge on California park

By Karen Lake

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Anna and Tess Richardson pose in their homemade costumes and homemade covered wagon.

Karen Lake

RANCHO SANTA MARGARTA, Calif. — The pioneer bonnets, aprons, cowboy hats and handkerchiefs may have looked out of place July 21 at Altisima Park, especially in the July heat.

The heat at Altisima Park in Rancho Santa Margarita didn’t appear to keep 500 people from attending the free Pioneer Celebration sponsored by the Santa Margarita California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on July 21. The celebration schedule included pioneer-type games, a simple dinner, a mini-trek with covered wagons, and even two messy pie eating contests.

If you followed the cheering you might have seen the three-legged race, the water balloon toss or the jump the line in action.

“It was hot but that didn’t seem to faze the children at all," said Stake Young Men president Pat Brokaw. "By the time we had the 500 water balloons ready the adults were so ready to join the games. I think when the water balloons broke it was a welcome relief from the heat.”

After dinner and games, the mini-trek began. Margie Dayley, Santa Margarita Trek chairwoman, was asked to plan and orchestrate the trek.

“I wanted every child in the trek to have a bonnet or handkerchief, so I found 10 teenagers and a handful of willing adults to help me sew 130 bonnets at the beginning of July,” Dayley said.

Every child walking wore a bonnet or handkerchief while pulling homemade red “covered wagons” to walk the short distance to the playground.

The handcart trek was re-enacted to remind the children of the sacrifices that led up to the pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley in Utah on July 24, 1847. In 1847, after years of persecution, the Mormon pioneers finally had a place of their own where they could live and practice their religion in peace. Unknown to most California residents, Pioneer Day is a Utah state holiday.

See the event in action with a video by Jonathan Frazier.

The heat at Altisima Park in Rancho Santa Margarita didn't seem to keep 500 people from attending the free Pioneer Celebration sponsored by the Santa Margarita Stake from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The celebration schedule included pioneer type games, a simple dinner, a mini-trek with covered wagons, and even two messy pie eating contests.

Karen Lake is the media director for Golden Spoon Franchising. As a volunteer she has served as the media director for the Santa Margarita Stake for more than four years.

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