The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

August 31, 2013

78th annual parade to salute labor

BY JENNIFER BAILEY jbailey@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — About 90 entries will be a part of this year’s 78th annual “Salute to Labor” Labor Day parade that will start at 10 a.m. Monday.

The parade is organized by the Vermilion County AFL-CIO and honors the accomplishments of organized labor in the county, region and community.

The parade goes through downtown Danville from Vermilion and Davis streets south on Vermilion Street to Vermilion and Main streets.

It features local labor union floats, bands, political candidates, car clubs, beauty queens and local businesses and community groups.

This year’s grand marshal is Ward 7 Alderman and former Illinois State Representative Bill Black.

Organizers say Danville’s Labor Day parade is unique because it honors labor organizations by placing them at the beginning of the parade route.

Labor Day parades have been a long-standing tradition in Danville.

The grandstand for the parade is moved this year to the new improved area of Vermilion Street between Seminary and Madison streets, according to parade chairwoman Connie Ostrander.

“This is a day set aside to honor America’s working men and women. The people of Vermilion County should set aside this day to spend with family and take a much needed break from the work place,” Ostrander said through an email.

“This is our 78th year of celebrating with a parade in Vermilion County brought to you by organized labor,” she added.

Because of the effort of organized labor through the years, American workers, even non-union workers, enjoy such benefits as weekends, workers’ compensation, the Family Medical Leave Act, overtime compensation, health benefits and a 40-hour work week, among many others, according to parade organizers, Ostrander said in the email. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our needs are identical to labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures.”

Labor unions are responsible for negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions for their membership, Ostrander noted. Labor unions represent their members in disputes with management over violations of contract provisions.

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. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

Parades have been a tradition of Labor Day celebrations since the inception of the holiday in 1882. History documents parades in Danville as far back as 1935.

Pre-parade assembly for the 2013 Danville Labor Day Parade starts at 9 a.m.

Vermilion County Federation of Labor President Mike Dodge, member of the United Steelworkers, urges all to come out for “an old-fashioned parade — Union Made.”

Downtown Danville, Inc. executive director Dana Schaumburg says it’s always nice to see so many people line the streets downtown for the parade.

According to Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, “The Labor Day parade is a very important event in our community in that it brings people of all ages together to celebrate. It is a way to honor the hard-working men and women of our county and to recognize the strong businesses which make up our community.

“It’s also a festive way to end the summer by enjoying the bands, saluting our veterans and thanking the organizations and individuals who strongly support our community throughout the year.”

Eisenhauer says special thanks goes out to Ostrander and her team who put together the parade every year, and the hard work she and her volunteers put in to making the parade run smoothly.

He says “It truly is one of those marquee events each year that I, and many, many others, look forward to and is the perfect way to cap off the summer.”