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Thankful by the Numbers in Sanpete

By Merrill Ogden - | Nov 24, 2021

My research shows that Manila in the Philippines is the highest density city in the world – 119,600 persons per square mile. By contrast, Sanpete has 17.9 people per square mile. Utah has 35.8.

Occasionally, I like to remind myself of what it’s like to be a Sanpeter in the big picture of the world. The long and the short of the arithmetic of being a Sanpeter is that we’re just a “drop in the bucket.” This isn’t a news flash, but it’s worth contemplating once in a while.

According to the Census Bureau information I looked at, Sanpete is estimated to be at around the 28,437. The state of Utah’s estimated population is 3,271,616. That means that Sanpete comprises less than 1 per cent (0.009) of the state’s population. One out of every 115 Utahns is a Sanpeter.

Sanpete has 1,588.11 square miles. Utah has 82,143.65 square miles. Therefore, Sanpete’s area is nearly 2% of the state.

By the way, for your information, Rhode Island is smaller geographically than Sanpete County at 1,044.93 square miles. (Rhode Islanders have 906 people per square mile) Another “by the way:” Sanpete is more than 80% the size of Delaware.

Well, this information is all well and good and interesting. (Okay, maybe it’s just all well and good.) But why is it significant? What difference does it make?

The same kinds of statistics and comparisons could be brought up by several other counties in Utah. Box Elder County and Tooele County are gigantic geographically. But for our purposes here, those places don’t matter. Let some other two-bit columnist in those areas make hay out of their own statistics.

My point is that it’s special to be a Sanpeter. They talk about the Marines being “the few, the proud.” I’m here to say that Sanpeters are fewer and perhaps prouder. (At approximately 182,000 active duty Marines, Sanpeters are definitely fewer.)

Some years back, I saw Lee Greenwood perform in his theater (now a church) in Sevierville, Tennessee. In his trademark song, which many of us are familiar with, the lyrics are, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.” I believe that Sanpeters are proud to be Americans and proud to be free and living in Sanpete.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in this country. I feel that this holiday should be, and in fact is, special for the residents of Sanpete County. For one thing, our county is synonymous with turkeys and turkeys are synonymous with Thanksgiving.

We had a terrific “Pre-Thanksgiving” family gathering at our place this past weekend. It’s an “off year” for part of the family. You know how sometimes family members do alternating years with one side of the family or another?

On Saturday, we all took our bicycles out by Gunnison Reservoir and did some family cycling on the new mountain bike race course. It was a ton of fun.

You may have heard that more than 3,000 volunteer hours were put into the creation of the course. Last month more than 800 high school riders broke in the new race course for the final south region race of the season.

More than 3,000 spectators showed up for that event. It’s really phenomenal to think of that many people gathering out there.

My wife put together a big dinner on Sunday. A Norbest “Sweetheart” turkey roast, honey baked ham and all the traditional add-ons were on the menu. For me (at least in my mind), she prepared vinegary/sweet “Harvard beets,” marshmallowy candied yams and a cherry pie. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving again this week.

I’m glad to see that Thanksgiving is becoming more accepted as a two-day holiday. It’s always seemed silly to me to have a Thursday holiday that emphasizes the gathering of families and then expect workers to happily be back on the job on Friday.

In this day and age, families often don’t live around the corner from one another. The gathering of families is the reason that Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel period of the entire year

Sanpeters are Thanksgiving people. We’re grateful for our blessings. Some families have a tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and expressing thanks for particular blessings.

If that happens at your table and you don’t know what you’re going to say, let me give you a few of my own “thankful fors.” Feel free to use them. I don’t want you to be caught off guard.

Living in Sanpete, I’m thankful for: 1) being able to cut my own Christmas tree (if I choose to), 2) clear skies and bright stars viewed from my own yard, 3) being able to support a local business when buying turkey, 4) being able to not have to worry about getting rich and have the hassle of protecting lots of assets, 5) knowing that if things get tight and I need to put meat on the table, I can get venison on the hoof in my own back yard, 6) knowing that if I get caught doing #5 above and have to be put in the pokey, we have a nice modern jail with plenty of room.

It’s great to be part of the “spit in the ocean” of Sanpete. I’m thankful to be able to live here. I hope you are too. (And if you’re a reader who doesn’t live in Sanpete – we think we know where your heart might be)

— Merrill


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