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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
The Farmington Stake float won the Sweepstakes Award and the People's Choice Award at the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

When clowns, pooper-scoopers and drum majors take over the streets of downtown Salt Lake City, it must be time for the Days of '47 Pioneer Day parade.

Participants and viewers of the parade arrived early this morning — or late Wednesday night — to prepare for the event.

Salt Lake area resident Tonia Howard arrived at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday with her family to secure a good location. However, she noted that the other side of the street was already packed by the time they arrived.

The Howard family comes to the parade every year, but she said they only get to camp out every two or three years. The children said they thought it was fun to get to camp out, but felt the floats were by far the best part.

Howard's daughter, Ashlee, said she is excited to come again next year. \"I want to see new floats,\" she said.

Viewers came from across the valley to reserve the best seats on the street.

Scott Johnson and about 20 friends arrived at about 10 p.m. Wednesday. They brought mattresses, tarps and a pavilion to block the sun during the day. Johnson said he stayed up all night playing cards and having a good time with friends. \"We only slept about an hour,\" he said.

Matt Lloyd and Chris Ripplinger, with five friends, also came down to spend time with friends and to make new ones. While the group did not arrive until about 1 a.m., they still found room on the road to set up two LoveSacs and a couch. With plenty of room to spare on the couch and LoveSacs, the group hoped to entice other young singles to join them in their festivities.

\"We're doing this every year from now on,\" Ripplinger said. \"It's just a novelty.\"

Patrese Taylor and her family did not camp out all night, but still managed to find good seats in the grass. Her husband is in the Air Force, and they have not always lived in Utah, but they came to the parade a few years ago. When they moved back to Utah, Taylor said the parade was something the family had to come to.

Her daughter Mariah, 9, said she enjoyed seeing the floats, especially the one \"where the wagon opened and a rocket came out.\"

While viewers may come for different reasons — to socialize or simply to celebrate Utah's pioneer heritage — the outcome is the same. The handcarts are pulled, the beauty queens smile and wave, and the marching bands excite the crowds.

School rivalries became apparent as the Brigham Young University float was met with cheers and chants or boos and rants, depending on the loyalties. The University of Utah float was met with more resounding enthusiasm in its hometown.

President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Frances, waved to the crowds from the back of a sporty convertible. Two of the last living sons of Utah pioneers, Frank Swallow and Ken Blair, even graced the city from the back of a covered wagon sponsored by the Sons of Utah Pioneers.