As the unofficial end of summer, we all know what Labor Day means: it’s time to put away our white shoes and dig out our comfy sweaters. But as we say goodbye to our favorite summertime sandals and gear up for that one final barbecue and swim, just what are we celebrating, really?
The first Labor Day celebration took place on September 5, 1882. According to the US Department of Labor, the event included a picnic and demonstration in New York City. Other cities began to follow, and by 1885 industrial workers across the country were celebrating the holiday. Finally, in 1894, it became an official federal holiday.
But although it began as a celebration of the American worker, it is less about “labor” these days and more about a “farewell to summer.” Plan a big sendoff this year complete with great food and lots of sunshine.
Want to travel? According to Orbitz.com, the best location for Labor Day this year is Las Vegas. What better place to show off your favorite summer styles one last time while enjoying the shows, casinos, and outdoor fun that is Las Vegas?
If you can't get to the Strip this year, head for the nearest local beach or lake and enjoy one last day of swimming, boating, and soaking up the sun. Or, head to a nearby state park for a weekend camping trip! Camping, of course, doesn't end with summer, but now is a great time to break out the S'mores ingredients and gear up for the amazing fall camping season.
Water parks will be closing their doors after this long holiday weekend, so if you haven't made it to a local water park yet this summer, now is your last chance! Find a water park near you and enjoy a day of slipping and sliding down water slides and floating on the lazy river.
Of course, Labor Day weekend also kicks off football season. If you can't make it to the game, invite your friends over to your apartment for your first football party of the year! Be sure to prepare some classic game-day goodies (wings, sliders, chili, nachos!) and then sit back and enjoy the first of many great get-togethers this game season. (Go, insert-your-team-here!)
If you aren't a football fan and you don't want to spend the day on the water or barbecuing at a park, find a great festival or concert in your area. Denver, for example, will be hosting the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, featuring bands such as Sugarland and the Steve Miller Band. There will also be a balloon festival, hiking tours, and more. For those near Dallas, there will be two rodeos this holiday weekend. In Chicago, the North Coast Music Festival will send summer off to tunes from a variety of bands, including Knife Party and Midnight Conspiracy. And here in Atlanta, we've got Dragon*Con! The parade alone is worth checking out, not to mention the workshops, art show, film festival, and featured events (such as the parade – an absolute must-see!).
No matter what your plans are for the weekend, stay safe! Watch children around water, use sunscreen, wear your seatbelt, and don't drink and drive. According to the National Safety Council, there will be an estimated 405 traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend, and another 40,500 injuries needing medical attention. Take precautions to make sure your weekend is fun and accident-free!
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