Celebrate Pioneer Day at City Park
July 19, 2013
On July 24, 1847, Albert Perry Rockwood, the great-great-grandfather of Park City resident Dave Rockwood, descended into the Salt Lake Valley via Emigration Canyon with a company of pioneers who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He shared a covered wagon with the Mormon prophet Brigham Young.
"They both had come down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever," Dave Rockwood told The Park Record. "My great-great-grandfather was an Elder and early member of the church and his name and likeness is at the monument at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake across the street from Hogle Zoo."
Six years ago, Rockwood, and his wife Annette, decided to host a celebration that honored his forefather and the rest of the Pioneers on what is known as Pioneer Day, July 24.
The event started off as a small party with the Park City LDS ward and then grew to be a larger event presented by the Park City LDS stake.
From there, it blossomed into a citywide celebration that is presented by Park City Stake.
The tradition will continue with the Park City Pioneer Day Celebration on Wednesday, July 24, at City Park’s South Pavilion from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will kick off with an old-fashioned chicken-dinner picnic, Rockwood said.
"The whole concept is to pay homage to the Pioneers," Rockwood said.
After the dinner, the event will feature live music throughout the evening and present some Mormon Pioneer games that will include a three-legged race and a stick pull.
"These games are the types of games that the pioneers did as they were walking across the plains from Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. And they, of course, walked through Summit County to get there," Rockwood said.
In addition, the evening will feature members of the Park City LDS Stake, who have pioneer heritages, stand up and give a little background of their families.
"I will talk about my great, great grandfather," said Rockwood, who is a member of the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, an organization whose members all show a direct lineage to the founding pioneers who crossed the plains from Illinois to settle in Salt Lake City.
Throughout the event, children will also have opportunities to participate in some arts and crafts, including rock painting.
"The children will turn 10-pound stones into dolls that look like pioneer babies, and they will learn how hard and heavy it was to carry these babies across the nation by hand for 17 months," Rockwood said. "We’ll also do some face painting and other skills, including leatherwork and stitching. That will give them a taste of what it was like to live inside a wagon for all those weeks."
Rockwood, whose family has lived in Park City for 30 years, said he wanted to present a Pioneer Day Celebration because the city didn’t have host an official event.
"We figured it’s the state’s founding holiday, and my family decided to do something," he said. "I think people need to be reminded that the holiday is here because of the legacy and history of the Pioneers."
Rockwood said he already knows how to cook meals for a large number of people because he was in charge of the town’s Fourth of July pancake breakfast for 20 years.
"My family has always joked and said, ‘Dave can’t cook for four, but he can cook for 4,000,’" he said with a laugh. "Besides, nobody but good Mormons have the sense to get up at 5 a.m. to cook for thousands of people. It’s part of our DNA and nature."
The Pioneer Day dinner will serve approximately 1,500 people.
"We have 100 volunteers, and we buy most of the food from our local retailers," Rockwood said. "We want to support the local businesses the best we can."
The annual Park City Pioneer Day Celebration will be held Wednesday, July 24, at City Park’s South Pavilion from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.