Murray • Even before Miss Murray McCall Gray recited the pledge of allegiance to begin a Fourth of July sunrise service Friday, Murray Park was abuzz with activity.
People had staked out all the prime parade-viewing spots along the road that cuts through the picturesque park flanking a verdant stretch of Little Cottonwood Creek, majestic cottonwood trees providing sought-after shade on a hot morning.
Other folks lined up in front of Pavilion 5, where the Murray Lions Club was cooking more than 1,000 sturdy breakfasts of pancakes, sausages and eggs, at just $5 for adults and $3 for kids, all proceeds going to worthy causes.
"We’re happy to make money for our eyesight programs and our scholarship to Murray High," said John Robinson, who isn’t currently Lions Club president but has been five times since 1968. "All my family’s involved in this. My kids and grandkids are cooking and serving."
That’s the way it is in Murray, a tight-knit community with its own school system and a top-notch parks-and-recreation program financed by car dealers and other businesses on State Street. It, naturally, was the route of the Murray Fun Days parade from Fashion Place Mall to Murray Park.
Because of all of the city’s amenities, many people from Murray stay in Murray. Those who move away often return for events like Fun Days, which never really changes all that much. That’s its charm.
"Everyone wants to keep it down home," said Cindy Sorensen, who secured a spot near the end of the parade route "so you can talk to the people when they’re jumping off the floats. And they usually still have candy, which is most important."
Murray resident Gerry Trujillo, 61, said he’s celebrated the Fourth at the park for "as long as I can remember. When my kids were small I brought them here. Now I’m bringing my grandkids, too," he added, sprinting off to catch up with eight littler ones he was keeping an eye on.
One who keeps coming back "to my roots" is Joseph Bishop, 29, now of Herriman.
"I don’t know anything else. I’ve been setting up for the breakfast since I was 5," said Bishop, whose grandfather, Art, has been involved in the Murray Lions Club breakfast since its inception.
"This is a nice community and we take care of our own," said Art Bishop, a visible figure in Murray’s school system for a quarter century.
Cases in point: recently retired Mayor Dan Snarr was picked to be parade grand marshal, his handlebar moustache standing out in fine form, while one of Snarr’s predecessors, Lynn Pett, received a warm round of applause when he and his wife, Kathleen, were spotted in the sunrise-service crowd.
People intermingled throughout the day, a 1 hour 45 minute parade giving way to scores of activities, from kids games and a vintage car show to competitive coed two-on-two volleyball games and a 5K race that attracted 531 runners and walkers.
The eldest, 89-year-old Sid Smith, was happy to have won the 75- to 99-year-old division, laughing that "when you get to my age, most of the challenge is getting here." Pointing to the ground, he added, "and most of my competition is on the other side."
But for the most part, Fun Days is about the kids. And they were everywhere Friday, chasing down candy, running and screaming and crying. That’s what 86-year-old Murray resident Joy Painter has always loved about her 30 years worth of Fun Days.
"The excitement of the children can’t be beat," she said.
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