Santa Paula Times

Labor Day has rich history; SP has two events over holiday weekend

August 31, 2005
Santa Paula News

Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and you won’t have to travel far from home to enjoy the holiday that many should know more about.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesLabor Day weekend is just around the corner, and you won’t have to travel far from home to enjoy the holiday that many should know more about. Friday is Cruise Night, where hundreds of pre-1975 classic cars will line Main Street from 8th to 10th Streets, offering the best of vintage vehicles.Sponsored by the Santa Paula Police Officers Association and the Chamber of Commerce, Cruise Nite offers a stroll down historic Main Street while listening to the good tunes of either a DJ or a live band. Main Street merchants have gotten into the Cruise Nite spirit, staying open late for the thousands of people who flock to the city to enjoy the car show, with some area restaurants even offering Cruise Nite specials.On Saturday will be the city’s first-ever Labor Day Parade, featuring Main Street merchant Jess Victoria as Grand Marshal. A city native, Victoria was selected for the honor due to his dedication to working people and their issues, said parade co-founder Joanne Wright.Applications are still being accepted for the parade, which starts at 10 a.m. at 7th and Main Streets. The Labor Day Parade route will turn left onto Mill Street and end at the Gazebo, where parade-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy musical entertainment.
“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country,” said Samuel Gompers, a cigarmaker who went on to become the founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. “All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day... is devoted to no one person, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation.”According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: a street parade to exhibit to the public the “strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community. A festival followed parades for workers and their families, which became the pattern of Labor Day celebrations.“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. “It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership -- the American worker.”