Oak Creek ready for Labor Day celebration

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— Labor Day celebrations in Oak Creek are steeped in tradition.

The celebrations began in the early 1900s as a way for coal miners from across the state to organize and talk about unionizing. Earlier celebrations were, for the most part, about business, said Renee Johnson, president of the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.

Years later, the focus turned to family and friends, said Johnson, who has lived in the town for 35 years.

"It (has been) a time to gather and have family reunions to visit," Johnson said. "It was like one weekend set out each year where they knew they could come to town and see a lot of people they knew."

That holds true today, as hotel rooms in Oak Creek have been booked for weeks, and former residents have been planning their trips for even longer. The Class of 1969 is hosting a reunion Sunday at the high school.

Some tourists just happen to stop by the town during the weekend and find they get "sucked in," said Becky Wisecup, chairwoman of the town's Labor Day Committee.

First-time visitors and longtime residents can look forward to a long list of weekend activities.

The festivities kicked off Friday with a "Gong Show" at the Colorado Bar. A teen dance also was Friday night.

A pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. today at the Ambulance Barn gets the weekend rolling. The Soap Box Derby is at 9 a.m. on Main Street.

This afternoon will feature a cribbage tournament, children's fun fair, concert in Decker Park, and a comedy show that features local improvisational performers as well as comedic juggler Jek Kelly.

Sunday's events include softball, an auction, roadside mine tours and a barbecue with music.

On Labor Day, there will be a parade at 10 a.m. followed by an afternoon in Decker Park with food, games, contests, and skydivers.

The Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg will have a big presence during the weekend. Members of the society will keep the Old Town Hall building open so residents and visitors can look through photos and other books documenting the town's almost 100-year history and make copies of photos of relatives or old friends.

The Historical Society also is sponsoring a fabric sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Sunday at Storm Mountain Coffee Roasters in downtown Oak Creek.

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