Labor Day parades return to the Metro-East

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By CARL GREEN
Illinois Correspondent

THRONGS OF MARCHERS and spectators will gather again this year for Metro-East Labor Day parades. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s usual Labor Day parades and celebrations in Madison and St. Clair counties, but this year’s events promise to make up for it. – Labor Tribune file photo

East Alton, IL – Labor Day will be back at full strength in the Metro-East this year with three parades, picnics and an awards banquet.

  • The Greater Madison County Federation of Labor will hold its annual Tri-City Labor Day parade in Granite City on Sept. 6, beginning at 10 a.m., and followed by the annual picnic in Wilson Park.
    And for the second time, it will hold the Union Family Parade in East Alton and Wood River, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28.
    Both parades were canceled last year because of COVID-19, along with other Labor Day events.
  • The Southwestern Illinois Labor Council earlier said it would resume its Belleville parade and picnic on Sept. 6 as well, after a one-year absence. The Council’s annual Labor Awards Banquet will be held Sept. 2. Planning for both is continuing.
  • The Granite City parade proceeds from downtown one mile to Wilson Park, which will include live music, speeches, food, refreshments and children’s events. Items with union logos may be donated for attendance prizes by contacting Federation President B. Dean Webb at 618-259-8558 or Mike Fultz at 618-409-4314.

A YEAR WITH NO PARADES
Last year, Labor Day without parades was tough to take, the veteran Labor leader said.

“We didn’t do anything,” Webb said. “For the first time in I don’t know how many years, I actually worked on my pole barn for the whole weekend and put a loft in and a room. It was crazy.

“Everything was shut down last year. It was quite weird. It’s nice to get back in the groove,” he added.

EAST ALTON-WOOD RIVER
The Union Family Parade was held in Alton for many years until 2019, when the Federation moved it to an East Alton-Wood River route in hopes of drawing bigger crowds in those strong union towns.

The results were encouraging enough to keep it there this year, Webb said at the Federation’s June 24 meeting.

“We just weren’t getting a lot of participation from the community, so we thought we’d try Wood River and East Alton,” he said. “Once people realize it’s in Wood River and East Alton – once it starts going – I think it will grow pretty good.”

Parade assembly begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28 at the Wood River Roundhouse parking lot. The parade will proceed north on Wood River Avenue and end at the Wilshire Village parking lot. A picnic will follow at Gordon Moore Park in Alton with free food and refreshments for union members, their families and guests with wrist bands that will be provided upon request.

Union locals may request wrist bands in advance for a $1-each donation and send donations to cover the picnic costs to GMCF of Labor, 161 N. Shamrock, East Alton, IL, 62024 or contact Webb.

SEEKING A MARCHING BAND
Webb is working now to find a marching band for the Union Family Parade, something it lacked in its first year.

“We try every year and for some reason, they don’t want to do it the weekend before Labor Day,” he said.

Parade-goers know that the Granite City High School band and the junior high band always perform well in that city’s parade.

“There’s nothing to replace the sirens, the fire engines and the marching bands coming down the road,” Webb said. “With sirens, people think something’s going on. But if you’ve got a marching band, people can hear it from blocks and blocks away.”

He said the Federation is actively seeking a marching band for the Union Family Parade.

“We will take any band in the St. Louis area – high school or junior high – if they’re willing to do it,” he said.

At the very least, the parade will have music from the Musicians’ Union trailer, he noted.

Madison County Federation of Labor Softball Tournament Aug. 15-28

The Madison County Federation of Labor’s annual Labor Day events will begin in late August with the James Stanley Memorial Charity Labor Day Softball Tournament, in which teams from unions across the St. Louis area compete, and the winners choose how the charity proceeds are used.

This year’s tournament will be from Aug. 15 to Aug. 28 at Gordon Moore Community Park, Alton.

This team entry fee is $200 – due before the captains’ meeting is held at 6 p.m., Aug. 18, at the Machinists Center, 161 N. Shamrock, East Alton, IL, 62024. All teams are asked to send someone to the meeting to cover tournament rules and for bracket selection.

The winning team also gets to display the traveling trophy for a year.

To apply, send the union name, coach or contact name, street address, day phone number and number of teams, along with the fees and picnic donations, to GMCF of Labor at the Machinists’ Center address. Or call Webb at 618-259-8558.


 

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