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Sans Parade, Labor Day Still Has Important Local Connotations



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Labor Day has always been a little more special in Newtown, and not just because its many capable residents can celebrate their individual contributions to our workforce and community.

From grade schoolers — helping out with some gardening, lawn cutting, household chores, or maybe setting up a little neighborhood refreshment stand or impromptu toy sale; to the many young adults — from servers, to landscapers, to retail associates — who make up the backbone of Newtown’s service economy; to thousands of other residents, some of whom are well into their 80s, who still head out to the proverbial office to get the job done, this and every Labor Day, your Newtown Bee salutes you.

The US Department of Labor reminds us that neighboring New York was first to introduce a bill to make Labor Day an official holiday, but Oregon was first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. During that year, those states, Massachusetts, and New Jersey created a Labor Day holiday, and Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania followed suit by the end of the 1880s. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28 of that year, Congress made the first Monday in September a legal Labor Day holiday.

Images from 1882 show New York City’s streets filled with marchers at a parade and thousands of onlookers on September 5. The scene mirrors a tradition Newtown has celebrated nearly every Labor Day for decades — when Main Street closes down and, for the countless attendees who have witnessed or marched in our spectacular parade, Newtown seems to become the center of the Labor Day universe.

Our glorious parade, now curtailed for a second year, has been a gathering that includes proud representation of local labor collectives, along with nonprofits and service groups, local businesses, emergency responder agencies, dance and scout troupes, bands, clowns, Shriners, and, of course, politicians.

Newtown’s Labor Day parade has long been known as the unofficial “opening day” of the political season as dozens of hopeful office seekers and incumbents with signs, banners, and entourages rub elbows with state and federal officials while putting faces to names so voters may actually see, even for a fleeting few moments, what most of their local political candidates look like.

With no parade this year, local political hopefuls will be even more challenged to get their names, faces, and ideas in front of Newtown voters. And maybe this year more than ever, part of the job is not simply self promotion, but trying to inspire those constituents and neighbors to get out and cast a ballot — whether by the absentee process or showing up for a few minutes in person on November 2.

Trust that in the weeks ahead, The Newtown Bee stands ready through our print edition, social networks, and newtownbee.com, to partner with local candidates on both fronts. Just take a moment to review our letters policy if you plan to contribute political endorsements or candidate positions to our “Letter Hive,” and, candidates, be in touch so your local newspaper can help your names, faces, and priorities become familiar to our voting public.

And good luck!

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