We loved it—and not just because of those 1,000 sheep that marched on Main.
For many years, I was a regular participant in parades in both California (as a Boy Scout) and more recently in the Salt Lake Valley. There’s always something special about gathering with the crowd and watching a parade. But my experience here in Cedar last Saturday was much more than simply observing the participants. It was getting the feeling of being part of a close-knit community that somehow has been lost in many cities and towns the past couple of decades.
Take our experience on Saturday. We stood next to a local couple who’ve lived in the area for many years. They’ve enjoyed each year of the Cedar Livestock and Heritage Festival. And as the parade began, I could hear them commenting on people they knew who were riding the horses, driving the tractors, shepherding the sheep and herding the grandchildren who anxiously awaited for the next entry to throw candy to the curbside.
When a group of dogs came by, all dressed festively, the couple and others around them were snapping photos. When the steam-powered hay bailer rolled down Main, they marveled as many of the rest of us did at the technology of the equipment.
They shouted hello to the Grand Marshal, 84-year-old Carlisle Walker Hulet, who still enjoys working the sheep. They waved at Mayor Maile Wilson, who was raised in Cedar City and whose grandfather also once served as mayor. They knew him.
And behind the crowds watching the parade were the downtown businesses, storefronts that were frequented by many following the parade later that morning. The word “Americana” kept coming to me, because what I saw in Cedar City on Saturday was an example of everything right with America. Hometown residents celebrating their heritage, proud of their history, patriotic, optimistic, grateful for the city and county and country in which they live.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from watching my first-ever Cedar City Sheep Parade, but I am thankful for what I got. It was a memory and feeling that will endure. Thanks to the sheep—and to all of those who were watching them with us on Saturday.