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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Days of '47 celebrations have been held each year since 1943. The annual parade ranks among the oldest in the nation, according to Days of '47 Inc. The float parade winners were announced Tuesday morning, July 24, 2012, including the Theme Award from the Salt Lake Stake.
It feels more like a hometown (atmosphere), it feels like family, it feels nice to be around people you feel comfortable with. —Robert Maxwell

SALT LAKE CITY — As the grey clouds vanished and the temperature started to rise, the kids began riding their bicycles in the closed off streets and families walking towards the parade route carrying umbrellas and coolers gave off a family atmosphere reminiscent of a small town that mirrored back to the beginnings of the days of the pioneers.

The excitement kept parade goers warm in the early morning in anticipation of the Days of '47 Parade on Tuesday but even the late arrivals were just as eager as those who had camped out the prior night.

Ann Nancarrow, 62, has lived in Utah for 27 years, she along with her husband and granddaughter had seen the floats on television, but were first timers attending the parade.

As Ann watched the vintage cars and horses pass, she described the atmosphere and floats the best when she said that, "it feels like a Utah parade."

The parade seemed to invite families from all cultures and at the same time giving the parade goers a taste of small town life inside a metropolitan city like Salt Lake City.

Nancarrow explained that the parade has a vintage feel because most of the small towns are represented in the parade.

"I think it gives a small town (feel) because the small towns are featured," she said. "You have small town bands, like Delta was here."

The Days of '47 Parade has become a Pioneer Day tradition, commemorating Mormon pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Days of '47 celebrations have been held each year since 1943. The annual parade ranks among the oldest in the nation, according to Days of '47 Inc.

The Utah atmosphere brought out first timers from all over, even those who are no longer spring chickens.

Sara Sarvagal, 65, who was wearing a pioneer bonnet to cover her face from the sun is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she came from Mexico to attend the parade.

"I had the desire to come to the parade of the pioneers," she said in Spanish. "(the parade) is a good example for all of us because we need to be strong just like the pioneers."

She had not visited the state of Utah, but decided to take a vacation to visit her daughter who has lived in the state for 10 years, but had not had the opportunity to attend the parade until now.

However, even those coming well after the first couple of floats were just as excited for the festivities.

Robert Maxwell who arrived late with his family wasn't in any rush.

The Maxwell family, who have been in Utah for four years, were still able to get good seating just in time for the award winning floats to pass.

"It feels more like a hometown (atmosphere), it feels like family, it feels nice to be around people you feel comfortable with," said Maxwell. "It's not so busy, there's a lot of people here, but it's nothing in comparison to the huge ones."

While new families begin their parade traditions there are other families who have been doing it for decades.

Brent Pitcher and his family have lived in Utah for 40 years and have come down from Drapper to the parade 30 times.

"We rank parades by the number of bagpipe bands," Pitcher, who was with his wife and sister, said. "A three bagpipe parade is like the best parade ever, a one is a very good parade, and two is awesome, that is how we rate parades."

He figured that this parade would have at least three bagpipe bands making it one of the best.

The family started their parade season in March with the Gateway St. Patrick's Day Parade and they build family traditions with celebrations like these.

The crowd and the Pitcher family exploded with cheer when they saw the Days of '47 Sweepstakes Award winning float, the No. 51 Polynesian Culture Center float who were celebrating the Pioneers of the Pacific.

The float featured indigenously dressed Polynesian's in a tropical float with palm tress and dancers surrounding the float.

"That is awesome! look at that," Pitcher said when he saw the Polynesian culture float. "It doesn't get better than that."

As the music blasted through the speakers on the float, Pitcher felt on top of the world.

"Our slogan (in Utah) is life elevated," he said. "It is good to be king, where else do you get that?"

Brent Pitcher's wife, Mary, considers her husband a parade aficionado, but Brent also came to the parade to celebrate the heritage of the pioneers.

"I don't care who you are, you have that pioneer spirit in you, somebody, somewhere has a story about how you got here," he said. "It is those stories that we enjoy on a day like this. It doesn't have to be cowboys, we all have stories that have a heritage and this is just a way to celebrate heritage."

Float parade winners were announced Tuesday morning.

Days of '47 Sweepstakes Award: No.51 Polynesian Culture Center

Theme Award: No.23 Salt Lake Stake

Outstanding Animation Award: No.90 Herriman UT West Stake

Ensign Award: No.106 Fort Herriman UT Stake

People's Choice Award: No.37 Salt Lake Parley's Stake

Children's Choice Award: No.37 Salt Lake Parley's Stake

President's Award: No.51 Polynesian Culture Center

Queen's Award: No.95 Walmart/PMC

Mayor's Award: No.62 University of Utah

Community Award: No.24 BYU

Brigham Young Award: No.59 Murray City

Governor Award: No.84 City of Taylorsville

Spirit of Faith Award: No.101 S Jordan UT Daybreak

Legacy Award: No.99 Farmington UT North Stake

Utah Award: No.50 Midvale Ut East Stake

Daughters of Utah Pioneers Award: No.41 SL Winder Stake

Pioneers Award: No.89 Taylorsville Utah North Stake

Hilda Erickson Award: No.97 Herriman Ut South Stake