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Great Ways to Celebrate Labor Day

Updated on May 5, 2011
Labor Day parades and speeches celebrate the workers who fought for workers' rights in the 1800s. Photo courtesy of Capture the Flag (flickr).
Labor Day parades and speeches celebrate the workers who fought for workers' rights in the 1800s. Photo courtesy of Capture the Flag (flickr).

For many families Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer, a return to school for the children, and the gradual return to the scheduled life that comes with school, work and winter holidays.  With this symbolic end of summer “vacation” people take the long weekend to relax and play, maybe take one last weekend getaways.

As much as Labor Day now represents a holiday for rest and fun family time, its roots are anchored in the workers’ rights movement of the late 1800s, when workers did not enjoy the benefits workers have today.  They did not have a limited work week, minimum wage, or minimum age requirements.  Employers did not extend benefits to their employees, such as health, retirement, and reimbursement tuition.  Working conditions were often unsafe and many workers died at their places of employment or in the strikes they engaged in to protest their working conditions.  It is because of these workers that employees today enjoy the benefits that they have, and in celebrating Labor Day we should take at least a few moments to remember these brave men, women, and children.

Festivals, Fairs and Parades

Chicago Jazz Festival – Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois

September 2 – 5, featuring outstanding jazz music performed by the nation’s top jazz musicians, including Corey Wilkes, Kurt Elling Quintet, Brad Mehidau Trio, Norman Brown and Harlan Jefferson.

3 County Fair – Northampton, Massachusetts

September 3 – 5. Events will include a monster truck show, demolition derby, Adam Burke’s white Bengal tiger show, Kent Family Circus, and Battle of the Bands. This is the 193rd edition of the 3 County Fair.

Detroit International Jazz Fest – Detroit, Michigan

31st annual. September 3 – 6. Featuring the music of Mulgrew Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Maria Schneider, and Roy Haynes. There will also be the 2nd annual Detroit Jazz Fest Cruise and Saturday night fireworks.

West Indian American Day Parade and Carnival – Brooklyn, New York

September 4 – 6. 42nd annual. This festival celebrates the culture of West Indian islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Grenada. Events include the Kiddie Carnival on Saturday, Dimache Gras (Fat Sunday) celebration on Sunday, and an early start on Monday with the J’Ouvert Parade (steel pan drums) starting around 3 AM followed by the Brooklyn Labor Day parade at 11 AM.

Cleveland National Air Show – Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio

September 4 – 6. Acts include the US Navy Blue Angels, US Army Golden Knights, Red Eagle Air Sports, Pyrotechnics/Wall of Fire, Shockwave, and Gene Soucy. Attractions will feature World’s Largest Grill, a rocket display, rock walls, bungee jumps, and flight simulators.

Bumbershoot 2010 – Seattle Center, Seattle, Washington

September 4 – 6. 40th annual. Music will be performed all weekend by various artists, from local to celebrity musicians, including Bob Dylan, Weezer, Drake and Mary J. Blige. Other acts include comedy, film and visual arts.

Weekend Getaways

Families may enjoy a final camping trip, for those in colder climates.  In warmer climates Labor Day marks a time of cooling temperatures when camping can finally be done again.  Let’s face it, in Florida it is just too hot to camp in the summer (unless you own an RV).  Camping in a national or state park is a great way to getaway as a family and to support the country or state’s wonderful park system. 

Couples may prefer a romantic weekend getaway.  One of the many large cities holding a big festival or fair, like the ones listed above, is a great choice.  Washington, DC also has many events, such as the Concert at the Capitol, and several parades in the surrounding suburbs.  

Day Trip to the Beach or Lake

Labor Day weekend is a great time to pull out the boat for one last trip to the lake, or to pack up the beach gear and go hit the sand and surf before the weather cools off too much.  This idea, again, will depend on the location.  In colder climates, Labor Day weekend may be the last chance to truly enjoy the summer-like outdoors.  In warmer climates there will be many more weekends after Labor Day to go to the beach or lake.

Picnic or Barbecue

Always a favorite on Labor Day, enjoying a picnic at the park or a backyard barbecue brings together friends and family for a day filled with fun and relaxation.  For a picnic or barbecue at the local park, bring a football or Frisbee to enjoy an impromptu game.  In the backyard, tell the friends and family to bring their swimsuits to enjoy the pool or sprinkler toys.  Maybe even pull out the horseshoes for a game while the burgers cook.


No, shopping has nothing to do with Labor Day.  However, some people  find shopping to be relaxing, and many large stores (and small boutiques) offer excellent sales.  If you live by “no white after Labor Day” rule, this is a great time to replenish the wardrobe with the latest fall and winter fashions.

Labor Day offers workers across the country a long weekend to enjoy family and friends, to rest and relax, and to take one more weekend getaway.  Large and small cities offer their citizens and visitors great activities.  Even an impromptu barbecue is fun.  With so many great ways to celebrate Labor Day, everyone will be sure to find something they enjoy.  Resting, relaxing and enjoying a paid day off with friends and family is the best way we can honor the workers who fought so hard for our workers’ rights.


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      Kingmwago 3 years ago

      Cynthia,Thanks for sharing. With your lilvey description and photos, I feel like having a tour to Japan too (though with unknown itinary).OK, let's relax and hea!WS