Crowds gathered, sirens blared, motorcycles circled and high school bands marched for the Ogden Pioneer Days parade Thursday.
Sheldon Cheshire, an Ogden resident for 20 years, joined a crowd dressed as pioneers pulling handcarts. A descendant of Mormon pioneers, he was honoring his community and his family heritage.
“To me it means a lot because this is where my family settled,” Cheshire said. “It’s great to be able to celebrate that heritage.”
The parade started at 9 a.m. on 31st Street and headed north on Washington Boulevard.
Floats, vintage cars, horses and plenty of old-fashioned pedestrians spread out over 10 blocks
The parade passed by numerous stores and businesses, Ogden’s Historic 25th Street and the newly renovated LDS temple, finally winding down at 20th Street just north of the temple.
Phidia Cutrubus, owner of the Cutrubus family line of car dealerships found throughout northern Utah, remembered the parade in its early days.
He would sit behind his used car lot on Washington Boulevard and watch the parade, which has been around for as long as he can remember, at least 70 years.
“It’s probably one of the biggest traditions that we do have in Ogden,” Cutrubus said. “It goes back many many years. How can you explain something that’s been here forever?”
An Ogden native, Cutrubus was raised on Historic 25th Street, the heart of the Ogden community, in the years following World War II and describes himself as a longtime supporter of Weber State University.
Though an old tradition for some, others have discovered the parade only in the last few years.
Coming back for her second year, Candice Byrtle, a local resident, is only just starting family traditions at the parade. She said it’s a good time for her to ponder the sacrifice of the pioneer settlers in the valley.
“I appreciate them for making the trek out here,” Byrtle said.
She spent the day with family and enjoyed the day off by throwing a barbecue. Her favorite part of the parade was a line of tractors celebrating the farming industry in the state.
“I’m a tractor girl,” she said. “I grew up on a farm myself, so it’s awesome.”
Weber State University had a strong presence in the parade with members of the cheer squad and football team walking and leading the crowd in cheers.
Bo Bolen, a WSU senior and running back for Wildcat football, walked and cheered with his teammates in the parade.
A native of Aurora, Colorado, Bolen brings an outsiders appreciation to the holiday as he honors his LDS heritage.
“Its a special holiday,” Bolen said. “I’ve never experienced it until I came to Utah.”
He and his team are also trying to get the community excited for the football season this fall.
“We’re passing out free tickets and schedules,” he said. “We’re trying to get the community more involved and excited about Weber State football.”
The result has been positive so far, according to Bolen.
The parade was a convergence of traditions old and new. It doesn’t just celebrate Mormon pioneers, though that is still a major part of it.
Cheshire, pulling a handcart like his ancestors did before him, welcomed the celebration of diverse backgrounds.
“I like the idea of being able to celebrate everybody’s heritage,” Cheshire said. “It’s kind of a nice way to celebrate whatever kind of heritage you have.”
According to Cheshire, that’s what Pioneer Day is all about.