On July 24, Utahns around the state came together to celebrate Pioneer Day with the Bountiful Handcart Day Parade and Days of ’47 Parade, the largest parade in the state and one of the oldest in the United States.
This year, three star basketball players from the U’s 1998 team that made it to the NCAA National Championship game, represented the flagship university on the parade float. Former NBA player Michael Doleac, assistant coach for the Utah Jazz Alex Jensen and former NBA player and current Utah Jazz commentator Britton Johnsen, thrilled parade goers.
There was a number of years where the U didn’t have a float in the parades, but John Fackler, director of alumni relations and former MUSS board advisor, said in 2011 the MUSS board and MUSS student alumni board approached the administration about it. The MUSS has since been heavily involved in the parades from manning the float at the Days of ’47 float preview party at the South Towne Expo Center, arranging the MUSS PLINKO game with prizes and riding on the float in both parades.
“My favorite part of being in the parade was seeing first-hand how much this community loves the U,” said Brad Kiernan, former MUSS president. “We were by far the favorite float and would receive the loudest ovation at every corner. It really showed me how important this school is to Salt Lake and the surrounding area.”
Fackler said his favorite part is, “Seeing the emotions we evoke from children to adults along the route and the Ute pride that comes out. To see all those people flashing the U as the float passes is really fun.”
No state funds are used to pay for the float. The money is instead raised by departments across campus.
“We encourage departments on campus to donate funds and they have been great. They realize the importance the float is in being visible in the biggest parade in Utah,” said Brian Rasmussen, marketing director for University Marketing and Communications. “It’s a good opportunity to expose the university brand.”
If you didn’t make it to the preview or either parade, here’s what you missed out on: