Labor Day, 1907

Labor Day is a holiday of long standing in Nebraska. Our law was introduced in the twenty-first regular session of the state legislature by Senator F. T. Ransom from Nebraska City. The bill passed without opposition and became a law when it was approved by Governor John M. Thayer on March 29, 1889. In its early days marked by parades and demonstrations of worker solidarity, Labor Day gradually evolved into the end-of-summer holiday we know today. The change was beginning to be evident by 1907 when on August 25 the Nebraska State Journal announced the celebration of Labor Day in Lincoln with a free picnic.

“But there will be no programe of set speeches,” said the Journal, “the committee in charge having concluded that the day should be a holiday in fact as well as in name. Neither will there be a parade. The labor day parade is falling into disfavor because of its expense and its doubtful value to the cause of unionism. Instead there is a growing disposition to make labor day a real holiday-a day devoted to having a royal good time instead of to laborious and expensive parades. . . .

“There will be a picnic at the new city park, and a grand basket dinner at noon is on the program as one of the special features. All who can are asked to bring well filled baskets, each family enough for itself and a little more for the young mechanics who seldom get a chance to enjoy home-grown cooking.

“The afternoon will be devoted to athletic contests of various kinds. Two ball games have been scheduled for the park diamonds in the afternoon. The boilermakers of Havelock and the pressmen of Lincoln will wrestle for supremacy on one diamond and the bricklayers and allied printing trades will contest on the other. No doubt the two winners will at a later date battle for the trades union championship of Lancaster county. Liberal prizes will be offered in the other contests, which will consist of tugs-o’-war, sack races, potato races, hurdle races, obstacle races, fat men’s races, and married women races. The refreshments committee will provide plenty of free lemonade for the picnic dinner and the afternoon.

“There will be no charge connected with any feature of the labor day celebration aside from the street car fare. . . . So far as possible everybody will join in the basket dinner at noon, the idea being to make the picnic a great social feature for the promotion of stronger friendships and better acquaintanceships.” 

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