I’ve been dying to get a guest poster for a while, so when I saw that 20 something bloggers were having a blog swap (I saw this before the due date, granted it was day of…still progress) I jumped at the opportunity (literally, I sprang to my feet with excitement). I was paired with the wonderful Crystalee Beck of Our Beck Treks, she is simply fabulous! I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.
My family would travel from California to join our cousins in Utah for Pioneer Day. Nothing conjured up more excitement in my little girl heart during summertime than Pioneer Day. A state holiday, July 24 is the day Utah remembers the Mormon pioneers who trekked across the plains in the 1800s and finally made it to the safety of the Great Salt Lake. Since that monumental day in 1847 when Brigham Young said, “This is the place,” citizens of Utah have celebrated with parades, carnivals, and fireworks.
I grew up going to the Draper Days parade with my whole extended family. Grandpa always saved a prime parade location for all 23 grandkids the night before – leaving his truck to mark our spot. We’d come early on parade day, excitement in the air and a Christmas-morning-type feeling keeping us from holding still. We’d see colorful floats, live bands playing, and beautiful parade “royalty” girls, and many of the parade-goers would throw CANDY! Better than Halloween, we could get this candy without going door-to-door; all we had to do was catch it. We had our waiting candy bags ready – some ambitious kids had pillowcases, like my cousin T.J.
As a farmer in a rural community, my grandpa built a friendly reputation for himself. I remember feeling proud as his granddaughter that so many parade-goers knew him. We grandkids knew the equation: the closer we sat to grandpa, the more candy we could get. People riding on the Draper Bank float, which was often a mini train, would throw shiny pennies – and sitting next to grandpa, we could collect 15 cents or more each! (When you’re six, that’s a small fortune.)
After the 2-hour parade line made its finale, we’d gather up our chairs and blankets, put a handful of candy loot in our pockets, and head to the carnival for the entire day. It was safe enough the adults would let kids wander freely, as long as we stayed with a cousin. The bright game tents and free craft stations kept us cousins scurrying for hours on end. Our parents would give us $5 each, we’d play games to win dinky little prizes. Some cousins would squander their money fast, while others would make it last almost the whole day.
Throughout the day, Draper City had a whole program of contests, rodeos, and performances. One year I remember my dad put me in the greased pig competition – the winning 9-year-old got to take home a pig. (Despite Dad’s efforts to encourage me, I was too squeamish get close to the poor pig, squealing as a dozen kids charged after it). I’d often join the adults to watch the horse-pull competition, although it wasn’t until my pre-teen years I appreciated the raw strength of those thoroughbreds, who could pull twice their weight.
After such a fun-filled day, we’d gather again as a family and wait as the sunset for the fireworks. The first would go off, “Ooh!” and the next “Aah!” and we’d call out our favorites. No wonder I cherish my Pioneer Day memories. With family, candy, games, and fireworks; it was everything a little girl loved, wrapped up in a magical summer day.
Want more? Check out the guest post I did on her blog “The Vacation My Mom Walked“