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Building and bonding: the tradition of float building in Lehi



For anyone who has lived in Lehi for many years, the building of floats for the Lehi Round-up Celebration was a rite of passage. For weeks and even months, volunteers from wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, businesses, and individuals would curl paper—a lost art, make pom poms, sew costumes and construct all kinds of objects to enter into the miniature parade, traditionally held on the Friday of the Round-Up Days celebration.

Every year, the parade committee would have a theme for the parade, and the float builders would use the theme to generate ideas for their creations. This year’s theme is “Once Upon a Time.” One ward used the theme to build a float to remind residents that Lehi once had its own airport. The committee consists of Lee and Jenni Adamson, Hannah and Heath Pulham, Katelin Hart, Leslie Sorenson, and Sammie Smith.

“This is the history that inspired our ward’s float, along with the excitement about the completion of Family Park’s airplane-themed, all-abilities playground this summer near the site of the old Lehi Airport. Not many people know there was an airport in Lehi, and when they visit the new park, they may wonder why so many airplanes are built to fit the park’s theme. The float is a way to celebrate Lehi’s history and a long-awaited new park at the same time,” said Lee Adamson. 

He added, “When our committee first met in April, we set a goal to build an attractive, traditional Lehi float in a way that is sustainable to the environment and to our budget. We estimate that the finished float will consist of about 75% reused, upcycled materials, including thousands of plastic shopping bags we asked the neighborhood to save instead of throwing away, and plastic tablecloths that were wiped down and turned into pompoms after parties. I’m not sure anyone has built a winning Round-Up float out of literal trash before, but we’re going to try.” 

There has always been a healthy competition between groups who have built floats. The late Barbara Powell once said, “The excitement of the parade was made even more fun when all the float builders would see who won. Some were disappointed, some were elated.” 

Powell was a float builder supreme who donated literally thousands of hours of work during her years as a float builder in Lehi. There were many who found the project exhilarating and difficult but well worth the effort. 

“There are special connections made with people you work with on floats,” said Penny Adamson, Lee’s mother. “I still remember the fun we had building the floats during Round-Up Days.”

Committee member Smith commented, “This has been my first time working on a float or being in the parade. I am very excited to see how it turns out and to walk with my kids.” 


Hart added, “Being my first time working on the float has made me very appreciative of other floats. The amount of time and volunteering it takes to get it done is so much more than I expected, and the ward has come through. It’s been amazing to watch.”

The excitement of the miniature parade is enhanced by the hundreds of children who get to participate. Some ride trikes, bikes and skateboards; some reluctantly wear duck costumes, turtle costumes, or whatever their parents talk them into wearing. Some very weary toddlers who grace some floats will fall asleep as the floats wend their way down the parade route, but for thousands of youngsters over many years, being in the Lehi miniature float parade is a treasured memory.

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