Miner's Day: Park City's End of Summer Celebration | KUER 90.1

Miner's Day: Park City's End of Summer Celebration

Sep 1, 2014

The Park City High School marching band heads down Main Street during the 117th annual Miner's Day Parade.
Credit Judy Fahys / KUER News

Americans celebrate Labor Day with picnics and barbecues.  But Park City has its own, quirky way of marking the national holiday.

The Summit County community dedicates its end-of-summer celebration each year to its history as a silver-mining town

“This was way back, 117 years ago, when the whole town is all mining,” says Jim Lea, of the Park City Rotary Club, which sponsors the daylong festivities. “And because of that, they decided to make Labor Day Miner’s Day in celebration of the community itself rather than just all the laborers because most of the laborers were miners.”

It’s a uniquely local event. Besides a pancake breakfast hosted by St. Mary’s Catholic Church, there’s a 5K foot race and the Running of the Balls, where thousands of yellow golf balls are set loose down the steep Main Street.

Mucking and drilling contests in the afternoon commemorate the kinds of skills that Park City’s original working class needed to extract silver from the mountains. There are bands and barbecues. And, of course, there’s a parade.

Lea advises arriving early to get a good spot.

“And maybe you’re on Main Street, and maybe you’ve got the Bloody Mary cooler right there and a lot of friends,” he says. “That’s the best part of it, I would say, is coming to participate but also seeing all your friends on the sidelines and seeing all your friends in the parade because it’s still a small town.”

The parade had 50 entries this year, including a contingent from young Lilly Occun’s karate school. They were getting ready to wow the parade crowd with showtime kicks and by breaking boards.

“It’s going to be awesome,” she says, “and its going to be about having fun and enjoying all the other things people can do and stuff.”

The Miner’s Day parade welcomes politicians and candidates – but only if they wear funky costumes. Summit County is one of the few strongholds for Democrats in Utah, and the Democrats had a big float.

But Republican State Representative Kraig Powell came, too, literally running for reelection in coat and tie and running shorts.