Thousands of Utah families considered Tuesday's Days of '47 parade not only an opportunity to enjoy one of the largest parades in the nation, but a chance to create memories.
Generations of Utahns packed curbs from South Temple and State Street all the way to Liberty Park at 600 East for the 163rd annual parade, some camping out and others arriving early in the morning to catch the floats, vintage cars and marching bands rolling slowly by.
The parade commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. July 24 is recognized across the state as Pioneer Day, the day Young looked out across the valley and said, "This is the place."
Kim Lubbers spent nearly 24 hours staking out her family's 30-foot section of 200 East near the corner of 200 South to accommodate 40 aunts, uncles and children. Lubbers considers the parade a family rite of passage; her husband's grandparents started the tradition of spending the night along the parade route more than 50 years ago.
She said the view of the floats is not what's important.
"We've seen the parade every year since we were little, so that really doesn't matter," Lubbers said. "It's about the family, that's what counts."
Popular entries included an ice cream-themed float built by the Parley Stake, which took home the people's and children's choice awards; the University of Utah's float, which inspired the crowd to sing along to the school's fight song; and the "Pioneers of the Pacific" float created by the Polynesian Cultural Center, which featured a steaming volcano, loud music and accompanying dancers.
Montana native Bonny Hemmert, 71, said she was a fan of the Polynesian float. She traveled to Utah with her husband, sister and brother-in-law to catch the parade. She said she is drawn to the commemoration of the pioneers who helped settle Utah.
"I'm LDS and so I'm very interested in the pioneers, their heritage and the story of it," Hemmert said.
Cheers and applause greeted the more elaborate floats, while little girls mimicked the graceful waves of the Days of '47 royalty as they passed by.
Sandy resident Sarah Clawson, 24, and her family brought signs they raised to critique passing floats and performers. The signs carried comments from "phenomenal float" and "excellent" to "you look beautiful!" and "breathtaking outfit" for the parade royalty.
Their sign-raising began four years ago, when Clawson saw the parade with a friend and others who did the same thing. She said she has been coming every year since.
"We just kind of kept on her tradition," Clawson said. "It's fun."
On the final block of the parade route, thousands of people lined 900 South just north of Liberty Park to take advantage of trees' shade. Pam Wright, of Orem, was there with her two daughters and seven grandchildren.
"Our daughter said it would be a good idea to do it each year, so we have," Wright said.
This is the fourth year the entire family has watched the parade together, she said. After the parade, they have a tradition of going home for a barbecue.
West Valley resident Cindy Medau bunkered down in her traditional spot at the corner of 900 South and 400 East, her tradition for almost 30 years. Medau brought 15 friends and family members and camped out beginning at 6:15 p.m. Monday on an inflatable queen sized mattress.
"It's incredibly comfortable," Medau said. "I've been at this same spot since 1983 when I used to live just a block away from here. This is the best spot on the route."
Hemmert said the parade was symbolic not only of family togetherness, but of uniting in celebration for one day of the year.
"It just shows that people really can enjoy each other," Hemmert said. "We don't know each other, but we're all together enjoying the moment."