Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day in Douglas, Alaska

Today, all over the United States, we celebrate a federal holiday, known as Labor Day. Labor Day takes place on the first Monday in September. The holiday and celebration of this tradition began in 1882, originating from a desire by the Central Labor Union to create a day off for the "working man". It is still celebrated mainly as a day of rest and marks the symbolic end of summer for many. Labor Day became a federal holiday by Act of Congress in 1894.

Original plans were that Labor Day would be celebrated, in the first proposal, as a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.

Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer. Some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school.

At home in Salem, Oregon, we celebrate with a barbeque and time with friends or family. Here, in Douglas, Alaska, my "90 years young" father drove me down to Sandy Beach where two local unions...Construction and Electrical, held a large barbeque, complete with complimentary hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, drinks, watermelon and even free 'Labor Day 2007' t-shirts for all.

Walking around with my dad, and watching as he greeted his electrical union 'brothers' from as much as 40 years ago, was an absolute delight. But what was even more unusual...a string quartet in a log cabin picnic lodge playing Pacabel's Canon in D Minor on a beach in Douglas, Alaska.