From the archives: Utah’s 1947 NIT champions welcomed home

First Published      Last Updated Mar 18 2017 11:06 am

Utah's civic leaders threw away the key and turned over the city to the conquering kings of the court, the University of Utah Redskins, Wednesday as the champs marched home in triumph.

Soaring out of the skies o'er the welcoming Wasatch mountains, the royal Redskins' United Air Lines ship came to a halt before a swirling mass of fans who had turned out to give them the most tumultuous welcome in the history of athletics in this state.

The colorful cage crew, which capture the hearts of the New York fans, proved that it also has the hearts of the home towners as an estimated 5000 jammed the airport and another 15,000 or 20,000 lined the streets for their parade through the city.

Regular City Holiday

It was V-U day in Salt Lake City and the celebration matched the V-J day festivities as the entire town turned the basketball victory into a regular city holiday. Never before has a sports event created such a stir and so much commotion as the accomplishments of this Centennial Utah basketball squad.

Don Brown and Ken Campbell, the two Ute yell masters who practically hitch-hiked their way to New York City, and then taught 18,000 [blame?] Metropolitan fans how to yell U-T-A-H — and like it, were on hand to inspire the eager-beaver Ute backers.

Gov. Herbert B. Maw, Mayor Earl J. Glade, Mayor David S. Romney of Ogden, Commissioner Fred Tedesco, Commissioner L.C. Romney, Dr. A. Ray Olpin along with Centennial Queen Calleen Robinson and her two attendants, Marie Burnett and Marie Louise Gardner, as well has hundreds of pretty coeds were on hand for the reception.

N.Y. Never Like This

Despite efforts of dozens of policement to keep back the crowds, the throng surrounded the big plane as it stopped and the cagers almost had to fight their way through to the mass of photographers and radio announcers, all wanting first call on the stars—and the champs loved it.

Big Vern Gardner was hoisted atop a large fire truck to lead the procession into town and other players were assigned to convertible coupes which carried their names.

Police had a difficult time unraveling the traffic jam which was created by the throng and the parade which was scheduled to start from the monument at Main street and South Temple at 12:30 p.m. was more than half an hour late as a result.

Gardner Takes Prize

Paced by the Utah band, the parade headed down Main street and made a 20-minute stop at Second South and Main while Nicholas G. Morgan Jr. introduced the players, and did an excellent job of it. Gov. Maw, Mayor Glade and Pres. Olpin made short talks. But the feature of the show was a special prize awarded to Gardner for being selected the "most valuable" player at the Metropolitan tournament. Gardner got a kiss, a regular movie kiss, too, from Queen Calleen Robinson.

After the downtown stop, the parade continued down Main street to Fourth South and then east to the University of Utah, where the gridders were given turkey sandwiches, courtesy of C. Rinetti and F. Capotolo, and then ushered into a rousing pep rally at Kingsbury hall.

Despite the fact that school is not in session this week, more than 2000 students turned out for the victory celebration and enjoyed a peppy show that was directed by Fielding K. Smith. .... Smith did an outstanding job in directing the show and introducing the athletes to the student body.

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