By Naomi Hatch
Pioneers and Patriots was the theme of Snowflake Pioneer Day, and this year’s parade grand marshal is a true patriot–Eldon “Spud” Stratton, Snowflake’s oldest living World War II veteran.
There were more than 65 entries in the parade, with the awards going to Oneness Center for Best Commercial, Class of 1979 for Best Theme, the U.S. Army of the West for Patriotic Award. The best overall ward floats were Snowflake 3rd Ward, first place; Snowflake 10th Ward, second; and Snowflake 4th Ward, third.
The Pioneer Program was a tribute to veterans. Music was provided by a choir under the direction of Eugene Webb, with Kenani Tenney and Mary Louise Flake at the organ, and Laura Shumway at the piano.
A slideshow paid tribute to hometown veterans, and was prepared by Brad and Joe Solomon.
Speakers were Spud’s daughter Sherry and her husband, Merlin Hancock.
“I’m so proud to be this man’s daughter, so proud of the things he stands for,” Sherry said, then gave a brief history of Stratton’s ancestors and how they came to settle Snowflake so many years ago.
“I’m grateful for my Stratton heritage and grateful for my Snowflake heritage,” she said, noting that she grew up in Snowflake, married and moved all the way to Taylor.
She said her dad is one of the most kind and most grateful men she knows. Speaking of his time as a prisoner of war, Sherry said, “What a trial that had to have been for a young husband, for a young father to go through.”
“I know Dad loves his country and I am grateful for his service,” she said.
Merlin spoke on patriotism, defining it as love of country and devotion to the welfare of our country.
He told of an interview with a man who visited the United States from Vietnam. After seeing America, the man stated that he didn’t think visiting the moon was any more mindboggling than visiting America from Vietnam. He felt that this country’s blessings are so great that no one can partake of the majority of them.
Merlin encouraged everyone to visit the veteran’s monument that was built in 1998, and lists the men and women who gave their lives or were held as prisoners of war. He noted that Stratton is the sole survivor among those named on the monument.
He emphasized that veterans protect our country, our town and their family from ever having to live without the freedoms we have in America.
“Yes, we do have those blessings, yes, we do have so many things to be grateful for,” he said. “I would say to you today, yes, they did go, they weren’t coerced, they weren’t chided into joining the service, most of them volunteered.”
Stratton’s great-grandson, 24-year-old Chase, was sitting next to him and wearing Spud’s uniform. Merlin noted that was the age of Stratton when he came home from the war. “That legacy still lives long in our family,” he said.
A variety of activities took place during the celebration. The car show and the craft show sponsored by the Snowflake-Taylor Chamber of Commerce drew a large crowd.
This year’s celebration included 120 cars and semi trucks displayed, with many awards being given. Brett Brewer took Best of Show for his 1967 Camaro for the third year.
The annual barbeque was delicious as always, and the historic home tours showed what life was like in the early days of Snowflake.
The melodrama The Queen’s Black (K)Night or Why Is the Ball Always a Brawl? showed off some of the many talents in the community.
The Friday rodeo brought a good crowd and the fireworks were spectacular. The rain on Saturday night didn’t keep many away, but it did prevent the fireworks display.
Pioneer Day was a great tribute to Snowflake’s founders and Snowflake’s patriots, thanks to the many, many volunteers who helped make this a memorable event.