We had over 250 participants who marched in our unit this year, and it was the first year we had a float. The Minnesota State Fair capped our unit at 200 marchers, however we had people join us on the other side of the street after the parade began. We doubled the size of our unit from last year. This was the first time we even knew that a cap of participants existed.
It was a warm and humid day, and I know the parade route was a challenge for some of our walkers. I really appreciated everyone’s enthusiasm and help.
Our float carried banners featuring two messages. “We the People – Workers Stand for America” was on one side of the float, and “Invest in America – Bring Our Jobs Home” was on the other. I believe these messages really resonated with the people lining the parade route on the State Fairgrounds. I heard a lot of cheering as we went by. The union musicians, the Twin Cities Labor Chorus and, of course, Uncle Sam were a hit and gave our unit so much character! A lot of time, energy and sweat equity went into the planning and making of the float, as well as the organizing of our marching unit. I have a few ideas for improvement during next year’s parade, and I welcome your input and ideas to build on.
The amount of people involved was great. I have a long list of people to thank. I am proud to say that when you pull union people together to do a job, it is amazing what you can accomplish. That is what I saw take place and it was an honor to be a part of recognizing and celebrating labor on our day! Special thanks goes to the following:
• The St. Paul Regional Labor Federation staff for helping to put the ideas into action. To Peter Polga-Hecimovich for entertaining us all as Uncle Sam, to Vicki Beebe and Lynne Larkin-Wright for making the float a reality and to Kera Peterson for coordinating the parade check-in process.
• To UFCW for loaning us a trailer for the float.
• To Mary Sansom for the use of her vehicle to pull our float, and to Michael Meyer for driving the float skillfully through the parade route.
• To Perry Schmidt for help with decorating the float and getting needed supplies.
• To the Musicians and Twin Cities Labor Chorus for their patriotic music and songs.
• To all of the retirees and other union members for marching with us!
This event made me proud to be a union member and we sent a strong message that union members built and believe in America too!
– Bobby Kasper is president of the 50,000-member St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.