WASHINGTON CITY – Jeffrey R. Holland is a member of the LDS Church’s Twelve Apostles, the former president of Brigham Young University and the author of eight books. He’s also one of St. George’s native sons.
Holland returns home Tuesday to participate in the Washington City Pioneer Day celebration. The 73-year old will also be honored Tuesday night at Washington City’s Veteran’s Park as he will receive the Manhood Award for his years of service to community and church.
The award will be presented at a luau at the park. The dinner portion of the luau, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is closed to the public. But event director Rick Neilson said the public was welcome to attend the award presentation at approximately 8:20. Holland is expected to make a short acceptance speech and then a Polynesian show will be performed by a professional dance group from Las Vegas.
“This is a show that might cost $150 down in Vegas,” said event assistant director Austin Jackson. “It should be very impressive.”
Neilson said it would be an informal event with no chairs or tables.
“We’ve told people to bring camp chairs or blankets,” he said. “The more the merrier. It should be quite a party.”
Holland is also scheduled to participate in Washington City’s Pioneer Day parade as part of the “Stripling Warriors.” As many as 1,000 young people will march in the parade in an event put together by Neilson.
“I was up in Bountiful last year and they did something like this for their Handcart Days celebration,” he said. “I’m a little bit OCD and I noticed that a lot of the kids marching there had their basketball shorts hanging out of their costumes and were wearing sneakers with the laces untied and I thought, ‘Hey, we can do better.’
“We have three groups that will be marching: The Stripling Warriors with a chariot out front and Captain Moroni leading them. Cary Chamberlain will be Captain Moroni and he’s real animated and should really fire them up. Plus, we have 12 drums … and horns.”
Neilson said the second group will be Boy Scouts dressed in full uniform and a third group will be youth dressed as LDS missionaries, both boys and girls. Neilson also said he is expecting a minimum of 600 marchers, though the number keeps growing. Groups from Denver, Rexburg, Idaho, and various communities in northern Utah have committed to march in the parade, as well as the Polynesian Stake in southern Utah and various youths from Washington County.
As far as the Stripling Warriors costumes go, Neilson said many of them are impressive.
“We really wanted to make this neat,” he said. “We had a costume contest for the most original and authentic costumes with the top three receiving $100. Some of these boys have really gone the extra mile, doing things like sewing buckskins into the shirts. Some of them got help from their dads, but that’s OK. If we got fathers and sons working together, well that’s a good thing.”
The Boy Scout marchers will be led by costumed character William Baden Powell, the founder of the BSA, while the missionary group will be led by costumed characters Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
The Washington City Pioneer Day Parade is at 9 a.m. Wednesday and will begin on 300 East near the cemetery. The parade route goes south from there to Telegraph Street, then west to 100 West.
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