When I was a kid the biggest event of the summer happened one town down the line on July 24th. Known as “Pioneer Day” or, more pragmatically, “The 24th,” this county-wide celebration commemorated the day that Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley after leading his people across the plains. On that fateful July 24 in 1847 Young rose up from his sickbed to announce that the pioneers had finally found a home. His “this is the place” pronouncement launched a flotilla of crepe paper floats in small town parades across the Intermountain West for decades to come.
When I was a teenager I marched in the county parade in a short pinstriped jumper and white Keds with my high school drill team and later rode on the front hood of a sports car in a pale blue Gunny Sax dress (see above) waving my best beauty queen wave.
As a child I was most often a bystander hoping to catch the salt water taffy thrown from the flatbed floats carrying displays of our proud history. But one summer a friend’s dad arranged for us to ride our bikes in the parade and we spent the night before weaving red and yellow crepe paper through the spokes of our bike wheels and making tassles to dangle off the handlebars. We dressed up as clowns and threw our own candy stash out of our bike baskets as we rode beside the floats depicting busted handcarts and giant beehives. Makes me hanker for some salt water taffy just thinking about that giddy ride.
Here are a few other things I’m thinking about on this Pioneer Day.
The inspiration behind Sea Ranch.
Some thoughts on Bill Cosby.