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Lehi Heritage Day working to keep city’s history alive amid rapid changes

September 4, 2018
Lehi historical tour app

Bryant Gunnell, a 14-year-old pursuing an Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America, has submitted historical entries about Lehi into the PocketSights app.

Lehi’s first parade was spurred by squabbles.

The early settlers were cooped up in a fort, and the area’s first bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knew people were getting restless. So, they held a miniature parade, a tradition that persists in Lehi to this day.

“These are traditions that have been around a long time,” said Lara Bangerter, the director of the Lehi Historical Society and Archives

Teaching those old traditions and Lehi’s history to newcomers is one reason behind Lehi Heritage Day, an annual event held Monday that celebrated 165 years of Lehi with events that included recognizing Lehi Pioneer Walk of Fame honorees, a historical Main Street tour, special displays and a classic car show.

Lehi, Utah’s sixth oldest city, has changed a lot since the first LDS pioneers settled there. The city had only 167 residents in 1850 and 831 residents in 1860. Even in 2000, the population didn’t top 20,000 people.

The city had an estimated 62,700 residents in 2017, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Bryant Gunnell, a 14-year-old pursuing an Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America, is trying to bring some of Lehi’s history to Lehi’s newer generations. Bryant, who used to live in Kansas, uploaded 16 entries about historical places in Lehi to the PocketSights app.

The tour, labeled the Downtown Lehi, Utah Historical Tour, is available both on the free app and online.

He received photos and information from the Lehi Historical Society and Archives for the project and learned about Lehi’s historical places, such as an old tabernacle that was north of the fire station before it was demolished.

The Lehi Heritage Day celebration has rotated through honoring Lehi’s different old LDS congregations to celebrating the different parts of the city. While Lehi is known today for the tech companies located on “Silicon Slopes,” Monday’s celebration honored Lehi’s early industry.

While many people of Lehi’s residents are new to the city, Diane Sudweeks, a member of the archives committee for the Lehi Historical Society and Archives, said she sees many people who come to the archives and will ask about information on their relatives.

Even though the city is rapidly growing, Sudweeks said it’s important to remember Lehi’s past.

“To me, it’s important for my kids to know what I did as a little girl on the farm,” Sudweeks said.

Bangerter said the Lehi Historical Society and Archives has tried to make Lehi Heritage Day an event that people who aren’t from Lehi would want to go to. Lehi’s history, she said, has made it what it is today.

“It explains why this is such a lovely, unique place to live,” Bangerter said.

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