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Sarah Dallof ReportingToday is Pioneer Day, marking the day the Mormon Pioneers first came into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Pioneer Day commemorations began early this morning with a sunrise service at the Tabernacle. Several choirs combined their voices for the traditional service celebrating pioneer challenges and accomplishments. There was also a flag ceremony conducted by the Mormon Battalion.
History was also celebrated today at This is the Place Heritage Park in true pioneer fashion. Utah's early days were showcased with games, crafts, music and even the transportation of the 19th Century West.
The highlight of the festival was a reenactment of key players, like Brigham Young, in the years leading up to Utah's statehood.
It wouldn't be a 24th of July without the Days of '47 Parade. An F-16 flyover marked the start of the 110-float procession. Thousands camped out and arrived early this morning to watch the annual event.
The parade wrapped up at Liberty Park around noon and, as in years past, was all about tradition. We found a family that's built their own traditions around it over four decades.
This was far from the first Days of '47 parade for Lila Straley, in fact, it's her 40th. She told us, "We used to go over on Main Street and sleep on the cement. So that's why we came early to get this spot on the grass."
You can't really blame her for sneaking home last night to take a nap; after all, she had most of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids holding her spot.
Family friend Donna Talley said, "We put the tarps down, the blankets down, the air mattresses, food, and the kids just play games. They love it."
Son John Straley said, "It keeps getting more fun; each year is more fun."
Lila's son, John, skipped out on the sleepover, but he came through for the family, finishing the 10K in first place for his age division. He says, "There are advantages to age; as you get older the medals are easier to get."
Lila's great-grandkids have figured out the importance of the parade to her. Alex Hooper said, "She's just been coming here for a long time, it's really cool."
The high school bands were one of the most popular entries in the parade. There were also a few choirs that helped keep the crowd's energy up.
Politicians were also visible during the parade. Gov. Jon Huntsman and his family were there. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson also rode the parade route. He got more of a mixed review from the crowd; there were some cheers and some boos.
It took the parade just a little under three hours to go the entire route. Thankfully we've been seeing some cooler temperatures today. It's been in the mid to low 80s today, which is a welcome relief from those 100-degree temperatures. People were staying cool with spray bottles and portable fans.
Once the parade was over most people streamed out of the park, but another group came in: the clean up crew. Armed with leaf blowers, they got to work cleaning up garbage. They say parade-goers this year were pretty clean compared to previous years.
Ogden celebrated Pioneer Day with a parade of its own down Washington Boulevard this morning.
Hill Air Force Base's color guard kicked off the parade, and another delegation from Hill reverently carried the flag down the street as parade-goers honored Old Glory, placing their hands over their hearts.
The Fremont High School marching band was in full uniform and sound for the celebration. And from the traditional parade fare with the band, to street hockey by the Junior Wildcats, the estimated 60,000 spectators lined up along the route seemed to have a good time.
You can find information on Pioneer Day events by following the links to the right.