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The Mormon Battalion marched in the first Pioneer Day Parade, and 162 years later the Mormon Battalion Association will carry the colors in Monday's Days of '47 Parade.

"The parade itself is one of the longest-running in the country, and the Mormon Battalion has been part of it since the beginning," said Jodene Smith, the co-chairman of the event. Records are incomplete, but "other than the war years, I would imagine, they have always been a staple at the Pioneer Day Parade. They would have to be the oldest entry."

There will be 115 entries in this year's parade, up from 109 a year ago, with fewer horses but more floats, Smith said.

Beginning in 1849, members of the actual Mormon Battalion — 500-plus men who joined the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War — marched in the parade, which celebrates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

"It's always a real honor to carry the national and state and Mormon Battalion colors, particularly at an event of the magnitude of the Days of '47 Parade," said Jerome G. Gourley, Mormon Battalion Association commander.

Members of the battalion continued to appear in the parade until the early part of the 20th century. And the Sons of Utah Pioneers kept up the tradition. In 1953, the Mormon Battalion Association was formed, first as part of the SUP and, later, as an independent organization.

"We have been the official flag bearers of the Days of '47 since then," said Gourley. "It's a thrill. It's a big deal. We get a kick out of it."

It does get a little warm, wearing waistcoasts styled after 19th-century Army uniforms in the July heat.

"You're perspiring pretty good by the time the parade is over," Gourley said. "But it's fun to watch the people. For the most part, the people rise and show respect for the colors — take their hats off and put their hands on their hearts."

Another longtime parade fixture, the Salt Lake Letter Carrier Band, won't be back, due to their age, Smith said.

While the recent outbreak of equine herpes virus prompted the cancellation of the Days of '47 All Horse Parade, there will be an equine presence in the main parade on Monday. "There will be horses," Smith said. "We were able to go ahead and get the approval for the horses."

There will be fewer horse groups than in past years, however. "Some of them did pull out, which is understandable," Smith said. "But others have waited it out and are confident that things are OK."

New additions include the Utah Horse Council, which will be making its first appearance in the parade. Plus more government and business floats than ever, Smith said.

And last year's experiment — adding the winning entry from the Days of '47 Youth Parade, which was on July 16 — was "such a big hit that we're actually going to do that every year."

Days of '47 Parade

The route begins at South Temple and State Street, runs east to 200 East, turns south to 900 South, then turns east to Liberty Park at 600 East.

• Paradegoers will be allowed to camp out on the parade route beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

• The parade will be televised live on KSL-Ch. 5 on Monday at 9 a.m.