Erda 24th of July Parade
The 24th of July, Pioneer Day, was cause for great celebration in rural Utah. My earliest recollection of this event is centered around the Erda parade during the Kennedy Administration. At that time, Erda was a town of around 500 hard-working souls. The 24th was celebrated with an energy that was specific to that day alone.
Erda celebrated with a parade and it seems as though half of the town participated in this kick-off event. The parade began at the intersection of Church Road and Highway 36. The destination was the Erda Ward chapel. The church was expanded in 1964, so the Church I am talking about was the original chapel, social hall, dance hall and family picture studio for our community.
The excited participants gathered beneath the huge trees to the south of the intersection. I cannot imagine where we parked all the cars but somehow we managed. It is likely that cars lined Hwy 36 and nothing much was thought about it, not much traffic on a Saturday on Hwy 36.
I rode my trike. The trike was gaily decorated with a red streamer woven between the spokes and strips of red paper attached to the grips. Very hot and very festive.
The July weather of my youth was hot and still. The hot weather could not lessen the energy of youth, the excitement was electric. It was positively unthinkable to be tired on such a short journey, it was only a mile. Child’s play, to be sure. When I think about how many times those short little legs had to peddle to get that tricycle down Church Road in July heat – ahh, the energy of youth!
My mom had outdone herself in decorating my trike. It seemed to me that all the parents were enjoying the event, but that is the way things were back then – no complaints. Parents of my childhood gave commands in the form of quiet advice, given often and freely. The term mother-hens comes to mind, they had excellent examples. This was their right and their duty.
I remember that many of the mothers walked behind the parade, starting out alongside their charges until it was apparent that more fun could be had if they fell back and let us be kids. We were very good at that. I am sure that the ones who could not walk the distance would ride the hay-wagon also taking part in the parade. Some would fall back to their cars being driven by the fathers. They were perfectly okay with leaving their ‘chicks’ to the other mother-hens of the rag-tag flock we must have resembled. My mom walked the entire distance and had fallen back early, after sensing from me that her initial distance was not nearly far enough away.
In this jubilant fashion, our Erda Parade found it’s way to the Erda Church. As we neared the church, the number of houses alongside the road increased. Each of these houses sported a gang of cheerfully waving friends, most elderly. It must have seemed as though this parade was solely for them to enjoy.
Triumphantly entering the Church parking lot we dismounted and mingled, proud and excited to be part of such an important event. The Church yard had been transformed into a wonderland of fishing ponds, coin-tosses, dunking machines and scores of other games to be enjoyed. It was rumored that there would even be a snow cone machine there! What a celebration. Thanks Brigham!
Our celebration would continue throughout the day and include a softball game and a treasure trove of memories. Throughout my life, celebrations have attempted to capture the magic of my first 24th of July celebration but have fallen short. I realize today that there can be only one ‘first’ time for everything. At a celebration today, there is a young child being totally immersed in activities for the first time, creating memories that they might someday commit to paper for others to enjoy.
Special thanks to my mom, who was an active participant in bringing joy to others at that time in her life. Special thanks to Emma for cooking her world-famous Emma Burgers and having such a beautiful family. I feel the need to thank all those that came before and created the possibility for this amazing life.