From Pipi’s Pasture: A special parade
July 4, 2014
Last week while I was wracking my brain, trying to bring back some memories of childhood Fourth of July celebrations, I remembered a recent Fourth of July parade that we attended with our son Jody and family. This story didn't happen in Moffat County; in fact it took place in Utah, but it's involves hard work and dedication, and it's a heartwarming story, too.
Jody, who works in Vernal, brought the parade to our attention. It promised to be something special since half of the parade was to be a remake of a parade held years earlier — in 1953, in fact.
The theme of the July 4, 2012 Uintah County Parade was "America: Land of the Free, Home of the Brave." The first half of the parade was traditional — Grand Marshall, floats, old cars, bands, horseback riders and more. The first part of the parade finished with the horseback riders. It was followed by the Oil Progress Parade, renamed for the Million Dollar Oil Progress Parade, which took place in October 1953.
The Oil Progress Parade was the brainchild of Vernal businessman George Burnett who spent about eight months, with the help of others, putting everything together. Burnett got the idea when someone from the Regional History Library called his attention to an old newspaper. On the front page were three photographs of that Oct. 17, 1953 parade, put on by energy leaders and headed by Carter Oil. One of the classic photos was of a Desk and Derrick Club float. Three women, dressed in swimwear and hard hats, were standing/seated next to a derrick, made especially for the float. Parked next to this float was a D8 Cat, also part of the parade, with a boy sitting on top.
As Burnett studied the photo, he got the idea to remake the float for the 4th of July parade. So he spent a lot of time relocating the ladies who had ridden on that 1953 float. He found two of them; one had died. Then someone found another photo of the float, taken from another angle. Behind the derrick was another lady who was sitting at a desk. Burnett found her, too.
Then Burnett located the granddaughters of the four ladies and arranged for one granddaughter for each lady to ride on the remade float. He hired a seamstress to remake the exact swimwear worn by the original ladies. And that wasn't all. He found a 1953 Dodge truck with a flatbed for the float. He also found a 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner convertible for the original Desk and Derrick Club ladies to ride in since they would be the parade's Grand Marshalls.
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Burnett also found a Mac Truck, I believe in Craig, to pull a D8 Cat that would be restored in time for the parade. And he set out to make the parade patriotic. One of the Desk and Derrick Club ladies had married a hometown war hero so their story was printed on a flyer that volunteers passed out to the crowd of parade attendees, along with a copy of the classic float photo and other information.
Besides the remade float and D8 Cat, there were other entries in this part of the parade, including those entered by oil companies — about 70 entries in all.
I will remember this parade because of Burnett's dedication and hard work in putting it together and for the teamwork of others involved. Besides that, it was heartwarming to watch the granddaughters as they rode by on the remade Desk and Derrick Club float, in exact costume of their grandmothers, and to have the original Desk and Derrick Club ladies honored.