Labor Day in Milwaukee
Two parades in one, the Labor Day Parade and All-City People's Parade made their way through downtown to celebrate economic and social contributions of workers.
The labor movement created our Labor Day holiday to show support and celebrate the contributions and economic achievements of American workers. In the first proposal for this holiday, the concept was to hold a street parade to exhibit to the public the spirit and strength of the trade and labor unions of this country. The celebration of Labor Day has been happening around the U.S. for over 100 years and celebrated locally since 1965.
Milwaukee celebrated the country’s labor force with the 2012 Labor Day Parade on Monday, Sept. 3. The event was organized by Milwaukee Area Labor Council AFL-CIO. The parade route started at Zeidler Union Square, formally known at Zeidler Park until the County Board renamed the park in 1995 to recognize contributions of the labor movement in Milwaukee’s history. The parade marched down Wisconsin Avenue towards the lakefront, ending at Meier Festival Grounds.
Many of the union groups sang songs or yelled Labor chants as they marched, and many spectators joined in. The Labor movement was still alive and hopeful in Wisconsin.
The end of the Labor Day parade included Milwaukee Public Theater’s All City People’s Parade. This year’s parade within a parade, “Finding Your Voice,” is to voice the concerns of the community through art, dance and music and to promote understanding and respect for all races, religions, cultures and abilities. This year’s themes were Don’t Silence Our Voices-No Bullying, School to Prison Pipeline, Moving to the Beat of Your Own Drum, Voices as One, and Hands and Voices: Weighing In. Beyond all the community artists dedicating their time to this parade, other participants included the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music’s Samba Unit, Ballet Folklorico Hermanos Avila dancers, and the Milwaukee Molotov Marchers band. Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theater provided the larger than life sized puppets of musicians that were beautifully made and worn with pride by those who gracefully operated them.
At the end of the parade route was Laborfest, a free family-friendly event from 12pm-5pm held at the Meier Festival Grounds. Music and performances from Milwaukee Public Theater, food and drink from festival vendors, motorcycle and vintage car displays, union displays and information, and a children’s area with clowns and magic shows were available to those who attended.