Brigham Young Descendent Remembers Thinking July 24 Celebrations Were For His Birthday
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – “Oh, I’ve got nothing but stories. I could bore you forever.”
Richard Wright Young has 87 years worth of stories to tell. On top of his own stories, he tells the stories of his ancestors. He’s been working to compile a book of their stories for the last 14 years.
“I want my posterity to know about the family,” he said, “and its contribution to the development of the area.”
Contribution to the development is a bit of an understatement. Young’s great-grandfather, Brigham Young, was the leader of the Mormon pioneers and in 1847 pronounced ‘This is the place’ as they entered the Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young was also the mind behind Salt Lake’s street grid system.
“There’s order and I’m all for order,” said Young proudly.
“On that particular day, it was the hottest day in the history of Utah. 104 degrees,” he said with a chuckle, imagining how hot it must have been for his mother in a hospital without air conditioning.
The heat was one thing. The hassle was another. Because on that day 87 years ago, Young’s father had plenty on his plate and attending the birth of his child hadn’t been on the menu.
Young’s father was putting the finishing touches on an important part of the parade, the float that would carry the first Days of ’47 Queen.
“My mother called him and said the water had broken and that she was going to walk to the hospital. I came at 2:55 in the afternoon, which really fouled up his business work and I think he held that against me for quite a while,” Young said laughing.
Being born the day before a big state holiday, Young grew up a little confused for a few years.
“For years, when my birthday came along we went to the parade, we went to the rodeo, we went to the fireworks at Liberty Park, we went on picnics. it was a grand celebration and I thought it was all for my birthday.”
He was disappointed when he finally realized the real reason for Pioneer Day.
Since then he’s his birthday celebrating the heritage of his ancestors and enjoying the Days of ’47 festivities. He’s seen his fair share of parade floats and has even been a float judge so he knows what to look for in a good one.
“Design. Color. You look for harmony,” he said, “You look for a message.”
They’re things his father knew decades ago when he built the first-prize winning float and things the float makers of today know as they create floats to tell the story of this year’s theme, Pioneer Stories: the Foundation for the Future.
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