SALT LAKE CITY — For many Utahns, watching or participating in the Days of '47 Parade is a tradition that dates back several generations.
Last year, the pandemic sidelined that tradition. But this year, it's back and better than ever.
"This is a celebration of our pioneer heritage. It's a celebration of what made Utah, Utah," said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Rasband has been named the grand marshal at this year's parade.
He shared his thoughts with KSL TV about why this celebration — the theme of which is 'Pioneer Spirit Alive Today' — is so important to the state of Utah.
"I think everyone, is trying to understand how we all come out of a worldwide pandemic, and I like the last part of that — alive today. I mean, what it really says is we're back and we're alive, and we're contributing and we're celebrating, and we're honoring those who've gone before us," said Rasband.
When asked what he's learned or believe Utahns have learned over the past year, Rasband said, "I've learned that time is important, spent in a priority basis, and that everything does not have the same priority to it. So you're, at least I have been, forced to focus on the things that matter most."
"I've learned how valuable personal interaction is. As wonderful as seeing hundreds, literally hundreds of people on zoom individual screens from their home, there's nothing like being with them — to be able to shake their hands to give them a brief embrace. There's so much more that goes with being able to be with people," he added.
The Church General Authority said technology has been a big part of getting through the pandemic.
"What we've learned with technology has been huge," Rasband said, adding that being the grand marshal at this year's parade is kind of a big deal.
"I'm excited to wear Levi's and a cowboy shirt and a Stetson hat and to ride with Sister Rasband and a few of my grandkids in the car. And yeah, it's a big deal to me," he said. "I'm just a regular Utah country boy, and to be the grand marshal of anything sounds like a pretty wonderful event for me."
Rasband said he hopes everyone has "a fantastic Pioneer celebration."
"Let's line the parade route with people who come to see all of these beautiful floats that have been prepared locally here in the state, to go down the parade route with bands and horses, and let's celebrate together as we all come alive with the pioneer spirit in the Pioneer Day celebration," he said. "And I'll look forward to being there with all of you."
The parade will be broadcast on KSL TV on Friday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Be sure to tune in and enter the Watch and Win contest to win $500 in cash!