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South Valley Journal

Town Days 2016: Traditions and New Activities

Aug 04, 2016 10:43AM ● By Tori La Rue

The Riverton City Council voted to forgo a carnival at the 2016 Town Days. Instead, a Fun Zone consisting of inflatable slides, rock walls, obstacle courses and other activities filled a section of the Riverton City Park. –Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected] 

Riverton, Utah - Thousands of community members gathered along the sides of Redwood Road and 12800 South to watch a two-hour caravan parade around Riverton City during the 2016 Town Days celebration.

“For a few weeks in advance, people put their chairs out to save their spots,” Riverton City Spokeswoman Angela Trammell said. “This tradition is at least 100 years old. It’s one of our oldest traditions, and it keeps families coming back.”

Marilyn Bilbo’s family has attended Riverton’s parade to celebrate the Fourth of July for the past 23 years. Although Bilbo moved from Riverton to Lehi last year, she returned to the Riverton City Park to watch the 2016 parade.

“This parade brings camaraderie and an opportunity to mingle as friends in good and happy company,” she said, mentioning that Riverton’s celebration had a more prominent sense of community than the other cities’ summer festivities. “If I wouldn’t have come to the Town Days, I feel like my holiday would be dull. Nothing else has brought me back since I moved, but this did.” 

The Bilbo family watched as more than 90 parade entries rolled by, including floats carrying Riverton, South Jordan and Murray’s beauty pageant winners and a semi-truck with its trailer filled with Riverton High School football players. The school’s marching band followed.

Local businesses showcased their services with signs and candies and decorated rides, as government entities showcased more wheels. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams waved to spectators while standing atop a moving bus, while the Unified Police Department dog mascot sat atop an armored, rescue-unit truck. Unified Fire Authority officers drove a red fire truck through the route.

“You can feel the excitement being here,” Bilbo said. “They always have the best entries.”

While residents knew what to expect at the parade, some residents were surprised the city wasn’t offering a carnival as part of the 2016 Town Days celebration. For the first time, city officials decided to offer a Fun Zone in the Riverton City Park.

The city council voted against a carnival when residents voiced their safety concerns in city council meetings. In the past, carnival operators had shut down rides unexpectedly, Trammell said, and parents were concerned that the carnival wasn’t promoting a family-friendly environment. 

Instead of the Carnival, the council approved a Fun Zone where independent vendors could offer their services. The Fun Zone included bounce houses, obstacle courses, a zip line, inflatable slides, rock climbing walls and skee-ball games. 

Resident Kim Farr said she was disappointed with the carnival’s replacement.

“My kids are older, so they want rides that can freak them out and spin them around,” she said. “I get trying something new, but I’m not the biggest fan.”

Jill Stewart, a Town Days attendee for 15 years, said she was happy to see the switch.

“It’s fun for the whole family to come and enjoy,” Stewart said. “It’s really much better than the carnival because it allows kids to have fun, but it doesn’t attract trouble. It doesn’t bring the same bad vibe that the carnival does.”

Gina Nichols watched as her daughter Leah, 9, climbed the rock wall in the Fun Zone. She said that Leah would have had fun at a carnival or in the Fun Zone, but she said she’s grateful city leaders changed to a Fun Zone because it gave local vendors a chance to make money. 

“This is a great park, and these are great activities,” she said. “Riverton Town Days—it’s a good place.”