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It’s almost time for the last Eagle Leather barbecue of summer. Join us September 3 for hot dogs and all the fixin’s. It’s a great family event where you can meet other motorcycle enthusiasts and the staff at Eagle Leather.
Labor Day rose from the labor movement. The first local ordinances authorizing the holiday were passed in 1885 and 1886. Soon states began to recognize the holiday, and by 1894 Congress extended the official celebration to the District of Columbia and US territories.
The very first Labor Day was celebrated September 5, 1883 by the Central Labor Union in New York City. As the celebration spread, it kept the format of the very first one: a parade to show the community the “strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.” The parade would be followed by a festival for workers and their families.
Before long, prominent men and women were asked to speak, but that first day was memorable without them. Early in the morning, crowds thronged the sidewalks of lower Manhattan along Broadway close to City Hall. They had come to watch the very first Labor Day parade. The police, who feared a riot might occur, were out in force as well, surrounding City Hall.
When the parade was due to start, at ten that morning, there were just a few marchers and no music to march to. The spectators were suggesting to Grand Marshall William McCabe that they give up the idea of marching. Then Matthew McGuire of the Central Labor Union ran up with the news that the Jewelers Union of Newark, NJ was on the way—and they had a band.
The jewelers came up Broadway with the band playing a tune from a popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera—“When I First Put This Uniform On.” They marched past McCabe and his escort, who followed right along, and then the spectators joined the march. In the end, between ten and twenty thousand men and women took part. Onlookers hung out windows, craned over rooftops, and even climbed lamp posts to see the spectacle.
The parade ended at Reservoir Park, and some folks went back to work. But most went to Wendel’s Elm Park where other union members and their families joined the festivities. There were speeches, and a picnic, lots or cigars, and a great many kegs of beer. From one in the afternoon til nine that night around 25,000 people celebrated the American worker.
It might have begun a bit unsteadily, and probably many were unsteady by the time the party ended, but isn’t that symbolic of every great cause—progress, unsteady, but constant.
Keep up the American tradition at your local Labor Day celebration and join us at Eagle Leather for barbecue.