Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

I'm taking the day off to celebrate Labor Day. Before you exclaim, "That Tate, she'll do anything to avoid work," let me explain. I'm in my hometown of LaCrosse, Wisconsin... *actually* celebrating Labor Day. Here on the working class part of LaCrosse, the North Side, there's an actual parade of various unions (electrician's unions, police officer unions, postal carrier unions, as well as the traditional Teamster's, AFL-CIO, etc.) There are floats and flags and, as to my five year old's delight, candy tossed at eager kids. Afterward, it's traditional to retire to the nearest park (Copeland) and eat brats and beans.

Until I was talking to some fellow writers at Wyrdsmiths last Thursday, I had no real idea that this tradition is mostly lost. Not only is the Lacrosse Labor Day parade cool because it actually celebrates the average working man and woman, but it's a total slice of small townness, in that the parade is very small, mostly consisting of people walking behind their various union banners, with a few odd and ends thrown in -- the Oktoberfest, which is the other HUGE celebration in LaCrosse, always has a fancy float with a loud speaker piping out "Roll out the Barrel" while people in lederhosen polka in the streets, and the Trane Company (one of the major factories in town) brought through a huge flatbed semi to display a gigantic chiller unit (in other words, an enormous air conditioner -- fifteen feet long, eight feet high). I mean, if I were to write about something like this in fiction, people would accuse me of being overly "quirky."

Anyway, it was great. (I should note that the above picture is not one I took at this year's parade. Our parade is MUCH smaller. I did get some great digital shots, but I don't have my cables for transfer here at my folk's house.) I hope this tradition survives here in LaCrosse so my son can continue to enjoy it.

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