Thrive 125 to celebrate anniversary of Utah statehood

LOGAN – Cache County residents are being invited to participate in a statewide celebration of the 125th anniversary of Utah’s statehood on Jan. 4.

The highlights of that event will be a television special exploring Utah’s culture and live fireworks displays in all 29 counties across the state.

After months of planning, the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts announced its Thrive 125 initiative on Dec. 27. The goal of that effort, according to its website, is to “ offer every Utahn an opportunity to reflect on our shared history and look optimistically to our future.”

Guiding the historical perspective of the Thrive 125 initiative are Utah scholars Sondra G. Jones, author of “Being and Becoming Ute: The Story of an American Indian People;” Katherine Kitterman of Brigham Young University; and W. Paul Reeve, the Simmons Professor of Mormon Studies at the University of Utah.

Those historians emphasize that achieving statehood on Jan. 4, 1896 was the climax of a nearly 50-year political and social struggle for Utah.

“This statehood celebration,” they explain, “will include all of the people who have shaped Utah during the past 125 years, as well as all of the indigenous peoples who lived in this region for thousands of years before statehood … While this is a celebration, it is also a chance to honestly discuss our relationships to each other, to the nation as a whole and to the land itself.”

State officials say that the 30-minute “Thrive 125: A Utah Celebration” special will air simultaneously on the ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX network affiliates in Salt Lake City at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 4. A repeat broadcast of the special is slated from 8:30 p.m. on PBS Utah that same evening.

The television special will celebrate Utah’s artistic heritage, cultural diversity and scenic wonders, according to the Thrive 125 website. The video will also include musical and dance performances by notable Utah artists and celebrity guests.

The televised event will be followed by fireworks displays throughout the state at 7:30 p.m. State officials are emphasizing that coronavirus safety precautions should still be practiced during those displays, suggesting that the three- to four-minute bursts of fireworks should be observed from cars or residents’ yards while maintaining social distance.

Thrive 125 fireworks displays in northern Utah are slated at Willow Park in Logan and Rees Pioneer Park in Brigham City.

To enhance the educational aspects of the statewide celebration, the Thrive 125 website also provides access to a teacher’s guide and lesson plans focusing on the impact of immigration, polygamy and Native Americans on Utah history. That website can be accessed at https://thrive125.utah.gov

The Thrive 125 celebration is a collaborative effort of the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts, the Utah Legislature and the Utah Governor’s Office. The initiative is also supported by Utah philanthropists Carolyn and Kem Gardner and Alan and Jeanne Hall.

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