Cities go all out for Days of ’47Aug 29, 2017 04:32PM ● By Jana Klopsch
Woods Cross expands its horizons under the sea. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
One of the highlights of the Days of ’47 Pioneer Day celebration has always been the parade, where businesses and Latter-day Saint congregations come together to show off what it means to be in Utah. And every year, to the joy of those who can’t attend the parade, a float preview party is held, this year on July 17–18 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.
“This is the best way to see a parade, in the air conditioning,” said Valerie Holman. “It’s such great talent around Utah. It’s amazing to see these floats here so I like to be here to appreciate these things.”
Many were glad to be able to participate in the parade out of the Utah heat where they could really take the time to appreciate the artistry from all sides at their own pace.
“It’s a lot nicer to see the floats indoors than at the parade and it’s fun to vote and pick and see what’s out there,” said Darlene Hammond from West Jordan.
Hammond was impressed by the hard work put into all of the floats this year, especially the one her LDS stake created, which she helped with for the first time.
“Since I was able to help this year, I have a new appreciation for all of the hours and time that people put in,” Hammond said.
Attendees were also treated to musical previews by the Utah Pipe Band, the oldest continuously organized Scottish bagpipe band in the western United States. It was formed in 1937 by Robert S. Barclay and recently performed at Memorial Day services up and down the Wasatch Front.
Other musical groups and activities were also available, such as face painting and balloon artists.
The 2017 theme for the Days of ’47 parade was “Visions of a New Horizon” and each city worked tirelessly to showcase what that meant to them personally.
The team from Woods Cross knew their city was once a major hub for train crossings and wanted to incorporate that but also wanted a float that screamed bright colors, so they dove under the sea.
“That’s what we wanted to achieve, big and bright, and we also wanted a lot of floaty, so lots of it’s up in the air,” said Michael Wilson, one of the team’s artists. “Basically what it is, is this submarine pulling a train of these seashells and these animals are all going for a ride.”
Wilson said the team began planning in December, but construction didn’t begin until the end of February. The final few weeks was an every-night-of-the-week project in order to get the small details, like large fish and seahorses carved from Styrofoam, complete in time.
The float sports sea urchins made from wooden shish kebob sticks, spray-foam coral, a giant Styrofoam carved crab, starfish and dolphin, a treasure chest and a yellow submarine crafted from a concrete Sonotube. Along with kids walking alongside the float in costume, there were also two bubble machines, a fog machine for the volcano and an eel that spits water into the crowd.
“We bought a lot of stuff from Innovative Design and Modern Display and there’s a lot of welding,” said Matthew Dickamore, leader of the Woods Cross team.
“We have almost zero experience float-building except for a couple of people. What we had was an interior designer, artists, architect, welder and sculptor. We took our talents and made the best use out of them,” said Dickamore.
Robert Collins of the Canyon View LDS Stake in Sandy said he had no experience building or designing floats before he was called on to head his committee of eight.
“They were telling us to be creative and to think outside the box. We went through the whole gamut of building a handcart and temple, but we’ve done that before,” said Collins. “We kind of used a unique design — it’s about hats.”
He pulled together people from all over his stake and got the youth out to help design and spend the four months building their float, which brought together Utah’s love of seagulls with an assortment of large welded hats that includes a baseball hat combining BYU and the University of Utah.
“I like the BYU-Utah hat. I think it represents the valley and the pioneers,” said Collins.
Many of the themes really caught the attention of young attendees, like one that featured a bi, bad wolf huffing and puffing.
As 12 year-old, Riley Durst put it, “It’s awesome.”