A final farewell to summer
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 2, 2013 9:54PM
Seve' Gauna 8, (left) and Emily Kleidon 4, of Lowell, wave to passing fire trucks during the annual Labor Day Parade in Lowell, In. | John Smierciak~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 4, 2013 6:13AM
Lowell — Thousands lined Commercial Avenue from Dairy Queen to the heart of downtown in a final farewell to summer during the 94th annual Labor Day parade.
Emergency equipment from around the region, floats from local businesses and various walking groups promoted the recycling theme “Dreaming Green” and were joined by union representatives and elected officials as they made their way down the parade route to the delight of onlookers.
Jason Thorpe, 5, scurried for candy tossed from parade entries while trying to point out treats for his younger sister Ella, 3, to pick up.
“I like the candy…,” Jason said, commenting on the perennial parade favorite for the younger set, “…and the sirens. They were loud.”
Richard Erickson of Lowell was watching his grandchildren as they gathered candy, reporting back to him about the treats they found.
Erickson, a retired steelworker, said he enjoys coming to the parade every year. He brought his children, and now his grandchildren whenever he gets the chance.
“It’s a good time for the family,” he said. It is also a chance to learn. Labor Day is a day for workers, but more importantly it recognizes organized labor, he continued.
“Most people don’t really understand what unions mean for all workers,” Erickson said. “Today unions are under attack by government, corporations and the media.”
Unions are responsible for a living wage, worker safety, 40-hour work weeks, paid vacations and many of the benefits that today apply to all workers, he continued.
“Unions paved the way. They are important,” Erickson said.
Cameron and Michael Mendoza of Lake Station brought their children Mia, 6, and Mike Jr., 9. It was a first time for the family.
“I didn’t really know about it,” Cameron said, adding a co-worker told her about the event and she decided it would be a fun way to spend one of the last summer-like days off with her school-age children.
The couple was amazed the parade has been running for 94 years and were surprised by the number of people who were in attendance.
“The size of the crowd is unreal. Everybody’s having a good time,” Michael Mendoza said.
Mia was dazzled by another parade staple, the Mi Ranchito Mexican horses and folk riders.
“They were so pretty,” she said.