Pioneer Day parade float aims to spread awareness on addiction, recovery

Jul 23, 2023, 10:10 PM | Updated: 10:51 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — People will line Washington Boulevard in Ogden for the Ogden Pioneer Days Grande Parade Monday, and one group hopes to make a meaningful impact by spreading an important message about a deeper topic during the parade.

The night before the big parade, several people gathered at a home in South Ogden to blow up balloons and drill down astroturf onto a flatbed trailer.

Shelby Batchelor looked up at a black and yellow balloon arch.

“I think we should add more balloons,” she said, to another volunteer. “This is a little bare in the middle.”

She took a look at festive hearts made out of red, white, and blue tinsel.

“I think they should go on the outside. They’re more visible,” she said, of where to put them on the parade float.

This was the group’s first time building a float for the Pioneer Day Parade.

“None of us have ever done anything like this before,” she said.

Between the black and gold tinsel and bunches of balloons, Batchelor and the others hope to spread awareness about a less sparkly topic as they make their way down the parade route in Ogden.

“I think there’s a big stigma around recovery and addiction,” Batchelor said. “And people are afraid to go reach out for help.”

The organization she volunteers for, Tug 2 Recovery, aims to create visibility around addiction and recovery. Tug 2 Recovery formed about four months ago and hosts weekly support groups, as well as helps people access drug treatment. Batchelor runs a therapy dog team for the organization.

“Like a tugboat would give a crashed boat a tug off of the rocks, we just want to do the same for the people in our community,” explained vice president Joseph Call, one of the three Tug 2 Recovery’s co-founders.

He experienced that tug first-hand.

“I was an addict for 23 years,” he said. “I lost everything. I was walking on the streets and then one day I decided, I had enough.”

Now he’s helping others. Call said they recently helped someone get access to scholarship money for drug treatment. That person just entered the treatment center last Friday, he said, to begin their recovery journey.

Tug 2 Recovery also hosts service projects, like a huge cleanup they organized along 21st Street in Ogden. Call said they filled two huge dump truck trailers with 600 pounds of trash.

They’ve helped people in recovery get their lives back on track by taking on projects like yard work and home cleanups.

“We really want to help people, and maybe they can become inspired about it and want to help others as well,” Call said.

Come Monday, they’ll add the Ogden Pioneer Days Grande Parade to their list of events.

“We decided the Pioneer Days, because we’re pioneers in a new way in recovery,” Call said.

Working hard together on building their float on Sunday evening, the group aimed to build a community.

“I hope that they see this and they’re like, ‘These people are like us,'” Batchelor said, of people along the parade route. “And this is a place I can reach out to for help.”

Click here to learn more about Tug 2 Recovery.

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Pioneer Day parade float aims to spread awareness on addiction, recovery