Umpteen years ago, on the 24th of July, 1947, the Mormon Pioneers came into this valley and Brigham Young announced “This is the place.” So they stayed. And now every year on that same date the people here celebrate. People even get off work because it is a state holiday.

To celebrate they have a Days of ’47 Rodeo, various communities have carnivals, small parades, and fireworks are a must.. Our little community of Cottonwood Heights has made me proud with their celebrations. I grew up in a town where the city did all that on the 4th of July. I loved it as a kid and volunteered in everything and even spent most of my teenage years in the parade somehow. I truly loved the 4th then and I love it now too. Now, I even decorate bikes and strollers in Red, White, and Blue and love to make 4th of July T-shirts, headpieces, and necklaces. I like going all out. It is fun.

In Vancouver, we were disappointed with what the big community did. Northwesterners are not very patriotic. Too many treehuggers and not enough redknecks. But then we were thrilled that pretty much all fireworks were legal and our ward friends pretty much threw their own shabang every year that was rather inspiring. Seriously, setting off fireworks with friends in a neighbors’ backyard or in the street is way more fulfilling (and dangerous) than watching some big show at a different part of town with zillions of people and no parking. I came to love the 4th of July in Vancouver. Then we moved. I spent lots of time lamenting that we could not be there for the 4th this year. If I would not have been pregnant and due in August, I would have planned a road trip back to Vancouver to overlap with the 4th.

The 4th of July is a lot bigger here and there is a lot of cool stuff to go see. Unfortunately, I felt very unpatriotic this time around because I was super exhausted from the week and a half old premature baby Davis and was not about to take him out in huge crowds. Bryan took 2 of the boys to the Provo Grand parade and that is all we did. We even went to sleep early that night instead of lighting fireworks. We were exhausted. I felt cheated out of one of my favorite holidays.

Then along comes the 24th of July. Our baby was a month old by then and we were told by friends that the community put on some fabulous stuff that was not to be missed. There was the Fantastic Flapjack Breakfast at the church, the parade at the bottom of our street that gets better every year, and the Butlerville (that is what our area of town used to be called way back when) Days carnival in the park.

  • I cannot miss free food that I don’t have to prepare so we went to the breakfast at the church. It was close enough to ride bikes or walk so we did. We had a nice time and it was outside and we could leave the baby under a blanket in his stroller and free of prying hands and faces. It was fantastic.
  • The parade was at 4 pm and seriously less than a block from our house. We walked down the street with our chairs, sat in the shade, and watched the parade that actually had some huge amazing floats in it. We did not even have to camp out for seats which is so nice! People in the parade threw out tons of candy to the watchers and the fire department drove a few trucks through and thoroughly doused people with a fire hose. It was rather fun and the freebies and candy made our kids giddy. The baby slept through the whole thing even when he got squirted by a passing float.
  • After that there was the carnival at the park a block away. We walked down to that and let the kids play on the inflatables and my personal favorite was to eat a ton of free watermelon. There was entertainment, food, inflatables, a mechanical bull to ride… we did not even see it all. At the end there were fireworks. We did not stay at the park all evening- many of us had meltdowns from doing too much, myself included, so we walked home, got in jammies, had a snack and watched the fireworks from the front yard.

All in all, it was a day that made me happy. And WAY too tired, but I will try to block that part from my memory. Especially the part where the baby did not sleep any that night afterwards.

When we entered this valley just after Thanksgiving with a van full of clothes, a few chairs and a folding table, I was rather skeptical about really moving here. It wasn’t very thrilling, I felt rather homesick for Vancouver, and I just wanted to go back. Now 8 months later I can agree that THIS IS THE PLACE. At least for a little while. The 24th of July has won me over.