It's easy for a place like Park City, now a destination for the rich and famous, to forget what it was for most of its history: a gritty working man's town. Miner's Day helps keep one of Utah's more affluent communities connected with its heritage, according to event chairman, Joe Rametta, president-elect of the Park City Rotary Club.
Miner's Day started in 1898 as a party the mining companies threw for their employees. No one worked that day. After the mines closed in the 1960s, the Rotarians picked up the tradition, adding a parade and mucking and drilling competitions
"This is our roots. It's important people remember why Park City became a city when it did," Rametta said. "We don't want to lose touch with our past."
As a cultural event, the Miner's Day Parade & Celebration is about the exact opposite of the glitzy film festival that takes over Park City for a week every January.
Instead of fur coats, VIP parties and caviar, Miner's Day features hot dogs, pancakes, foot races, bouncy houses and, of course, drilling and mucking.
The climax of the day's fun unfolded when men who clearly knew what they were doing assaulted concrete blocks with a pneumatic drill in front of packed stands at City Park.
The action began in the morning with a trio of vintage biplanes flying over Main Street to start the Running of the Balls, which is as much a spectacle as it is a raffle benefiting local nonprofits. Thousands of numbered green golf balls were released down the historic street, each bearing a number someone dropped $5 on.
The few balls that survived the trip down the pavement and arrived in a chute won donated prizes. With airborne golf balls bouncing past his head, police chief Wade Carpenter recorded the winning numbers moments before the parade began its journey north to the park. The 38-piece Park City High School marching band entered the top of Main Street playing James Brown's "I Feel Good."
Perhaps the longest (and loudest) float was a 16-dog sled team belonging to Pawsatch Snow Dogs. The huskies pulled a pickup that pulled a trailer filled with kids, waving campaign signs.
Owner Neal Bowlen joined the parade in support of his friend Claudia McMullin, who is running for re-election to the Summit County Council. McMullin was one of many political candidates sponsoring floats, including her challenger, Sue Pollard, who rode in a vintage carriage pulled by a draft horse.
Near the head of the parade a convertible sports car carried three young women in gowns, Miss Summit County Lexi Fa'avale, a Utah Valley University student from Coalville, and her runners-up, Emilee Marchant and Hadlie Llewelyn.
"It's an awesome opportunity," beamed Fa'avale, sitting in the middle, attired in red. "We're proud to be from Summit County. It's a like a big family."