Thursday, August 28, 2003
In 1913, members of the Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce piled in a car and chugged their way up to Baggs, Wyo. The trip was about 100 miles, and with cars traveling at top speeds of about 40 mph, it's unlikely the group made it to Baggs in less than three hours.
Once the members arrived, they walked around town and invited residents to Oak Creek for a big celebration: the town's first Labor Day.
Since then, Oak Creek has been known for its Labor Day weekends. The celebrations stretch on all weekend, with a grand finale parade and skydiving show Monday.
This year, the town is bringing back a range of traditions that have been left out of some recent celebrations.
One event that's being revived is the "Gong Show," Oak Creek's version of the popular 1970s variety show. There also will be a soap box derby for children and a dance for teenagers.
This year's celebrations could be a "rebirth" of Oak Creek's traditional Labor Day, said Mayor Cargo Rodeman.
"I'm hoping that it will be that," she said. "It seems like there are a lot more people involved and a lot more people getting excited."
The planned events are numerous and range from the traditional pancake breakfasts, to vendors, dunking booths, a petting zoo, a fishing derby and more. Two blocks of Main Street in downtown Oak Creek will be closed to make room for vendors.
There's an auction with a variety of prizes donated by businesses, dances and races, a barbecue and mine tours sponsored by the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.
And Oak Creek's Labor Day would not be complete without the skydivers. On Monday after the parade, everyone will gather in the park downtown and turn their heads to the sky to see what will fall.
"It brings everybody together," she said. "It also brings back a lot of the folks that don't live here anymore but have a lot of their heart here still."