Chicago celebrates holiday with beach fun and barbecues, Pullman visitors recognize labor movement history
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Labor Day parade kicked off in west suburban Naperville Monday morning, and security was top-of-mind.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of Naperville, including Main Street, to hold the annual parade, which is part of the city's annual Last Fling.
There were marching bands, floats, old tractors and more. Naperville celebrated another long Labor Day weekend festival with the annual event.
Many lined up early to get a good spot.
The Naperville Jaycees, who organized both the parade and the weekend Last Fling fest, have said it's a lot of hard work.
"Every year we are always talking to police department, the city to make sure our patrons are safe. That is a very top priority," said Beth Degeeter, co-director of the Naperville Jaycees. "With the things that happened in the past months, we've actually had more meetings and more discussions just to make sure that everyone feels safe and is safe."
The Jaycees said it takes a year to plan the event, and most of it is done by volunteers.
"We've come here every year, and now I bring my kids here," Bobbi Olmstead said. "We sit in the same spot by the bridge, and the front of the parade is always exciting because they have the most candy, which is what the kids like best."
This year's parade marshals included local Special Olympics athletes.
In Schaumburg, sirens rang in the Golden Anniversary of the Septemberfest Labor Day Parade.
Firefighters marched together, carrying the American Flag, followed by the most adorable SWAT team member. (Shot of young boy in SWAT outfit)
"It's nostalgic, you know? I used to march in the Schaumburg Marching Band here, so coming back and seeing all that, seeing a lot of familiar faces, seeing old friends," said Paul Tschammer, who grew up in Schaumburg.
Thousands of people packed the parade route to the brim. The Jesse White Tumblers flew through the air, marching bands set the tone and kids were showered with candy.
"It's good to have everyone as a family enjoy and celebrate. It's about freedom, it's about having rights to do whatever you want to do," said Mike Anderson, a Schaumburg resident.
But, parade-goers aren't taking this celebration for granted.
"I think every community needs this. We haven't had it in so long. It's an exciting time for everybody, we need to be here. We need to be outside. We need to say hello to our neighbors," said Renae Hendricksen, a Schaumburg resident.
The two-mile celebration was on pause the last two years because of COVID.
"It's so nice because I love seeing all the people here coming together. We really missed out on that with COVID," said Schaumburg resident Kellie Capesius.
Attendees could feel the security presence along the parade route. Village of Schaumburg snow plows blocked busy intersections near the parade and a helicopter hovered above, keeping an eye on the crowds from the sky.
"I think it just shows how strong we can come together and work together," said Kaela Hendricksen, a Schaumburg resident.
Renae Hendricksen also weighed in.
"I trust Schaumburg, they have a great department. There's police around, so it's nice to see that they have eyes on everybody here," Hendricksen said.
In the city, was an end-of-summer celebration for the books.
It wasn't the best weather to work with Monday, marking the end of summer.
But nonetheless, people were getting their celebrations in, whether that be enjoying themselves at the beach or a Labor Day barbecue.
The sounds of summer have been coming to a close.
"We sponsor live music every Labor Day, since 1968 if you can believe it," said Paul Petraitis of Paul's Broken Radio Band. "After COVID, it's hard to rebuild those connections that we took for granted."
Greenstone United Methodist Church in the Pullman neighborhood hosted a barbecue Monday, featuring smoked beef brisket, ribs and turkey.
"This is annual for us, and we like to come out and reach out to the community," said Greenstone United Methodist Church Chair Randy Livingston. "We need to be together. We need to focus and focus on each other and helping each other, working with each other."
The beach season is also coming to an end after Monday. Beaches in Chicago officially close for swimming at 7 p.m. and will no longer be staffed with lifeguards.
"She wanted to have some fun before the fall starts and kind of a final beach day," said CJ Vasco.
Despite the cloud coverage, the beaches have been packed.
"I came here yesterday, but I didn't have my swimsuit so I came again today, because I want to go in," said Prateek Gubta, who was visiting from Dallas. "Actually I like cold weather during beaches, so that's why I'm here."
People played spike ball and volleyball. They rode bikes and threw Frisbees, just with an extra layer of clothing on.
"So I got my shorts, I got my shirt in the bag, because you never know what's going to happen," said Aaron Solomon. "It's a little chilly out but you know people around, it's a good day."
These activities came after a Beach Hazard was in effect all weekend through Monday morning.
"We checked the weather. It was sunny, but then it happened to be cloudy. But then, I was okay with it," said Nikhila Gubta, who was visiting from Cleveland.
Labor Day at the beach can still be fun, even if it's not that sunny.
Most public pools in the city and suburbs usually close after Monday as well. All indoor park pools, however, will reopen for the fall season this week.
The espresso machine got a workout Monday as visitors checked out Pullman's new addition, a coffee shop.
It sits inside a building with historic significance right across the street from the Pullman National Monument.
"The building was originally a single family home, the largest in Pullman, about 4,500 square in size," said Pat Shymanski-Bielenberg of the Historic Pullman House Foundation.
In the 1800s, the building belonged to the general manager of Pullman Railroad Company. It became a private club and series of restaurants before sitting empty for 20 years, until Pullman resident Pat Shymanski and her husband bought it.
"We didn't have a vision for it for a long period of time. It is the Pullman House Project that really drove for how to reuse this building," Shymanski-Bielenberg said.
The Pullman House Project is a foundation that tells the stories of the Pullman workers families.
"Pullman has almost a thousand homes, and they were all occupied by somebody, and in many cases, families that lived here for generations," Shymanski-Bielenberg said.
House tour ticket sales and coffee shop proceeds will go towards the Pullman House Foundation and restoration. It's all part of the Pullman experience that includes the clock tower monument and an expansion of the Pullman Porter Museum, all to tell the story of the labor movement.
"It's really exciting to tell labor stories during a period when the country is seeing this resurgence of union organizing," said Pullman National Monument Supt. Teri Gage.
South Siders Vernon and Denise Moore came by for a visit.
"We've talked to our neighbors to convince them to come over here to see the progress and the history behind it," Denise said.
Vernon also weighed in.
"When they enforced the 8 hours, 5-day work week, this place has a lot to do with it," Vernon said.
Pullman visitors, residents and historians are hoping a new 101 Room Hotel planned for vacant land down the street will help bring more visitors, but they said the area also needs more restaurants and retail to make it a destination.