Photos: How Utahns are celebrating Independence Day
A child watches from the median as the Timpview High School Marching Band perform during the Grand Parade in Provo on Monday, July 5, 2021. (Annie Barker, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY – After a year without much reason to celebrate, the Utahners gathered on Monday to cheer, march and witness the Independence Day celebrations.
The holiday weekend marked a return to something normal after many of the state’s popular parades were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Freedom Festival in Provo, colorful parade floats rolled down the street and Utah Valley University cheerleaders and other performers made their way along the route as the crowd applauded, many from under pop-up tents. Former Governor Gary Herbert gave a thumbs up and his wife Jeanette Herbert waved from a sedan-style Forde Model T as the grand marshals of the parade.
In Salt Lake City, many gathered to watch a group of men disguised as Revolutionary War soldiers hoist a ceremonial flag held by the Sons of the American Revolution of the Utah Society in This is the Place Heritage Park.
A reenactor with the color guard played a drum and another brandished a bayonet in a display that was not possible last year due to the pandemic. The chance to perform again this holiday is “wonderful,” said Douglas McGregor, vice president of the Utah Association.
“As soon as we heard the governor’s announcements and understood that things were easing, we realized we’d be able to do what we’d like to do,” he said with a grin.
Sandy’s Cathy Xu and her two daughters Eva (8) and Christina (6) were among several dozen who attended the ceremony.
The young girls love digging for gems and going on carriage rides in the park, their mother said. But Xu, a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs who started a family in the United States after emigrating from China, said they had another reason to attend.
“It is a very unique identity for us to teach them – how to love my country and love their country – and whenever we have the opportunity to convey that sense of identity, we bring them here,” said Xu.
For Claire and Joe Chelladurai of Salt Lake City, the holiday was a chance to partake in celebrations after they were locked into the pandemic.
But the couple remains cautious. They got their vaccines, but their little son Ian – who was watching the historic park celebrations with big eyes and a pacifier – hasn’t had the same opportunity.
“It tries to manage our desire to get out while we try to choose activities that are still safe for it,” said Claire Chelladurai. “This is a good example of that because it’s mostly outdoors and we don’t necessarily pass it on to everyone.”
Due to fireworks restrictions, the only cannon fired at the park’s all-day celebration shot toffee in the air for the youths to retrieve. Night owls joined their arms for Do-Si-dos in an old dance lesson and competed in a watermelon
Jim Davis, a park ranger and master leather craftsman, encouraged several in attendance to remember the sacrifices made by the nation’s military personnel over the course of approximately 250 years. But he also encouraged them to ponder the experiences of enslaved people in the United States and indigenous groups who were here long before white settlers.
“Everyone made sacrifices to be who we are today,” he said.
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