Labor Day parades, festivals across Chicago area celebrate holiday

WOOGMS Parade makes return to North Side

ByRavi Baichwal, Eric Horng, and Maher Kawash WLS logo
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Chicago area celebrating Labor Day with parades, festivals
EMBED <>More Videos

Festivals, parades and crowds at the beach marked the unofficial end of summer in the Chicago area.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The Chicago area is celebrating Labor Day with a number of parades and festivals in the city and suburbs.

In Naperville, the city's Labor Day Parade is honoring frontline workers from Edward Hospital.

After being canceled last year, the event came back for its 55th year with Irish dancers and some marching bands.

The parade started at Naperville North High School, making its way through downtown and ending at Naperville Central High School.

Thousands of people who attended the parade were just happy to have this celebration back in town.

"You know everyone had a last year-and-a-half that has been pretty crazy for a lot of people and I think this has been a great opportunity to bring the community together and just have a great time," said Beth Degeeter, executive director of Naperville Last Fling.

"The weather's beautiful. It's super fun to have the kids out," said Nicole Kmetz. "They're happy, smiling. Just good to see so many people."

Some parents were overwhelmed with the joy of seeing their kids in the parade.

"It's amazing," said parade-goer Dianeth Cordic. "I love it ... I'm gonna cry."

Others just happy to have somewhere to be on this holiday. One family even made the trip down from Bartlett just to catch the parade.

"We are like so overjoyed," parade-goer Kim Orlando said. "Unfortunately, we typically go to Schaumburg. Schaumburg canceled events and I was online looking to figure out where else we could go today because our son loves a good parade."

The event returns with COVID precautions in place like distancing and sanitizing.

"We have people who are here at their comfort level," Degeeter said. "If you need to wear a mask, want to wear a mask, we appreciate that and just love you coming out. If you're not comfortable coming out that's OK too but we are taking every precaution."

Oswego's Prairiefest was rescheduled from June because of the pandemic. They spread the attractions out to lesson crowds.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Grove Days continue Monday. A modified version of the event started last week. There's a carnival and live music but no fireworks or parade.

The beautiful weather belies the bittersweet nature of Labor Day, a spot on the calendar for relaxation and recharging all around the city. From Humboldt Park to the South Side beaches to Little Italy and beyond, people basked in the sunshine on this unofficial end of summer

"I feel good," said Greg Gallager of Chicago. "I am ready for the fall. I am ready for the Eagles...Fly Eagles fly! I am ready for my daughter to start high school, so we are excited about that."

Kids were spotted downtown, preparing for school, hoping for normalcy, some marking the Jewish New Year celebration of Rosh Hashanah

"It is super," said Cullen Watanuki of Arlington Heights. "Nice right now just going out and about getting to back to places you like."

Compared to last year, Evan Watanuki said, "It definitely feels different. You get to meet your classmates."

But with the considerable increase in COVID cases nationwide this summer, there remains pessimism as this day to take stock unfolded

"I fear walking down the street sometimes," said Streeterville resident Carolyn Naselli. "I am here, but I am afraid to walk down the street. The crime is rampant so... optimistic, no, and I am a pretty optimistic person."

At the Rush Street restaurants, that have done record sales this summer according to proprietors, people watching was the name of the game.

Similar sentiments further north as like most beaches, Evanston's Lighthouse Beach closes when the sun comes down Monday night, with a feeling of gratitude on this Labor Day

"So last year was a lot harder than it was this year, this year it felt more normal thankfully because I think we were all ready for summer to feel normal again," said Olivia Woods, a senior at Evanston Township High School.

City beaches and beach houses close Monday night for the season.

Some outdoor city pools will be open, while others will be closed, according to the Chicago Park District website. Pool and park hours for the holiday are available here.

The annual do-it-yourself WOOGMS parade also came back.

The Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society celebratedts 58th annual Labor Day Parade with the Jesse White Tumbling Team performing.