Lowell celebrates 95th Labor Day parade
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 1, 2014 9:10PM
Children throw candy from the Iron Workers 395 float to those waiting along State Road 2 in Lowell on September 1, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2014 9:58AM
LOWELL — Despite a threat of rain, parade-goers lined up armed with umbrellas and rain ponchos to be part of an almost century-old tradition, Lowell’s 95th annual Labor Day parade.
Doris Cummings of Crown Point said she has been coming to the parade ever since she was a child. She said it makes her proud the parade is the longest running Labor Day parade in the state. The former Lowell resident, 72, said she grew up in a union home. Her father worked in the steel mills, and so did her late husband.
“It’s important to remember the contribution organized labor made to today’s workplace,” Cummings said. Her father taught her unions were responsible for the 40-hour work week, safety rules, vacation time and health benefits.
“He wanted you to know even if you didn’t work for a union, you had rights because of them,” she said.
The parade, and celebrating Labor Day with family, friends and food, always has been the way Cummings and her family marked the day. For Melissa and Robert Marovich and their young son Ayden, 4, the parade is a new activity.
Ayden was clapping and pointing as the police cars and fire trucks moved through with their sirens blaring.
The couple said they moved to Lowell over the summer and have not been to the parade before. They were surprised by the number of years the parade has occurred.
“That’s tradition,” Melissa said, adding one of the reasons they chose to move to Lowell was for the small town feel. “It’s a nice community, a good place to raise a family.”
Members of the Wilson family were ready for the rain should it come. Mom and dad Ed and Janet and twins Linda and Laura, 6, came equipped with rain hats, umbrellas and of course the folding chairs they set up along Commercial Avenue to watch the parade.
“We had a lot to carry,” Ed joked. The family had staked out a space along the roadway close to a spot where they could park their car so they could dash off if any rain were to become too much.
“The girls look forward to it. We hope the weather continues to cooperate,” Janet said.
The girls appeared oblivious to the threat of rain as they happily scooped up candy from the street. The sweets, though, are not their favorite part of the annual parade. Mi Ranchito Restaurant’s traditional Mexican riders and decorated horses are what they come for.
“We’re waiting for the ponies,” Linda said with a smile.