SALT LAKE CITY — Bianca Steinbaugh, of Spokane, drove 12 hours this weekend to visit her family and attend Monday's Days of '47 Parade.
"It's kind of exciting because of the mood of the people," Steinbaugh said, describing how she felt a high-energy spirit before the parade began.
She was among thousands who flocked to downtown Salt Lake City to celebrate Utah's pioneer heritage at one of the nation's oldest parades. The streets were filled with tents, blankets, hammocks and people wearing authentic pioneer costumes. Cheering and music could be heard from miles away as the crowd soaked up the atmosphere of the annual festivity.
Norma Goldberg and her husband flew to Salt Lake City from Ithaca, New York, to visit their daughter, who is expecting a baby within the next few days. However, the two had heard about the parade and wanted to witness it during their time in Utah, especially because they were not familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or much of Utah's pioneer history.
"We heard about this and it looked like fun and we thought, 'Why not?'" Golberg said.
Leo and Whitney Winegar, who live near Dallas, drove 20 hours to visit family members in Bountiful, but wanted to make sure they attended the parade while they were in Utah.
The couple wanted their kids to experience one of the largest parades in the country because they live in a small town, and parades in their area are "pretty small."
The Wingars also wanted to teach their children about their LDS pioneer heritage.
"We owe everything to the church. The pioneers got us here and got us established," Leo Winegar said. "It’s a big deal for us.”
Edgar Lopez, of Taylorsville, and Sergio Lopez, of Bountiful, wanted to make sure their cousin Jose Flores, who lives in Mexico, got to see the parade during his first trip to Salt Lake City.
"Everything about pioneers. They think that's cool," Sergio Lopez said. Flores agreed, adding, "It's really cool."
Many Utahns brought sleeping bags, tents and hammocks as they camped out for the perfect spot Sunday night before the parade the next morning.
Brent Heninger, of Sandy, arrived at the intersection of South Temple and 200 South about 8 p.m. Sunday to stake his hammock between two trees. Heninger said he and his family have attended the parade for years. The tradition started with his father, who is now 84 and was unable to attend on Monday.
Heninger plans to "carry on the tradition" for his father. He said he's camped out downtown on the night before the parade since he was 4 years old.
And while the hammocks provide a great view, Heninger admitted that they don't provide a great night's sleep.
"We do a little grilling and we stay up and basically we just do a Denny’s run at about 2,” he said. "You've got to be a little crazy to spend the night here."
Gim Bawden, of Taylorsville, has been camping overnight for 44 years. He was joined Monday by his four children and six grandchildren.
"We enjoy it. We have all of our family come and we have a good time," he said. "It's just a fun experience to see everything."
The streets were lined with floats, bands and horses Monday. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency, was honored as the grand marshal.
While there were almost 60 floats in the parade, 42 were displayed last week at the annual float preview party.
Several Salt Lake City officials including Mayor Jackie Biskupski, police Chief Mike Brown and fire Chief Karl Lieb were honored at the parade and were driven across the route in convertibles.
"It's an opportunity to get together and see what Salt Lake City is all about," Lieb said, adding a reminder to residents to be careful with fireworks and to follow all restrictions.
"Fireworks are part of the American tradition, we understand that. But with the conditions that are out there right now, you just have to be very vigilant," he said.
The following floats received awards from the parade committee:
• Days of '47 Sweepstakes Award: Bountiful South Stake
• Outstanding Animaton Award: Woods Cross Stake
• People's Choice Award: West Jordan Mountain View Stake
• Children's Choice Award: West Jordan Mountain View Stake
• President's Award: First National Bank
• Mayor's Award: Chinese Society of Utah
• Community Award: Salt Lake Granger North Stake
• Brigham Young Award: Draper Suncrest Stake
• Governor Award: Cottonwood Heights City
• Spirit of Faith Award: Salt Lake Tongan Stake
• Legacy Award: Draper South Mountain Stake
• Utah Award: Riverton Summerhill Stake
• Daughters of Utah Pioneers Award: Centerville North Stake
• Pioneers Award: Draper Suncrest Stke
• Hilda Erickson Award: West Jordan Prairie Stake
• Judges Choice Award: Murray City
In Washington D.C., Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch paid tribute to Pioneer Day on the Senate floor, calling the day a “significant milestone in the history of my home state.”
“Facing violence and discrimination at every turn, Utah’s early settlers crossed the nation in search of land where they could practice their religion free form prejudice and abuse,” the Utah Republican said. “In the cradle of the Rocky Mountains, they found a home.”
Hatch said every Pioneer Day, “we remember the sacrifice of these courageous men and women and the miraculous events that led to the founding of our state.”