One of the most delightful surprises about moving to Greene, NY, was the way they celebrate Labor Day.
I grew up in a town that celebrated baseball. It made gods of the men who excelled at that game.
In Greene, however, there is no day set aside to honor men with bats and balls. The town celebration occurs on Labor Day, a day to honor all working men and women.
The day begins with hose fights. What’s a hose fight, you ask? I had no idea, either, until we moved here. It’s a ball suspended on a cable down one block length of the main street. Two teams stand at opposite ends of the cable armed with a fire hose and try to send the ball down its length. It’s wet. It’s loud (all the cheering). It’s a tradition.
While this is going on, a 5K race is being run, or walked.
A parade follows. For small town parades, it pretty darn good. Lots of old cars, and horses, and firetrucks, and the local marching band. It has everything from microd racers to boy scouts.
Then, there’s the picnic. The area churches work together to sell barbecued chicken. The money goes towards college scholarships for local students.
And they have a midway — but the games are run by groups from the school and community. The National Honor Society runs balloon darts and the boys’ soccer team sells sno-cones. You get the idea. The money, again, goes to local projects — the summer playground program and the like.
Quite honestly, I have never seen a community work together like this. Every single year. For almost a hundred years. Literally.
In Cooperstown, I saw the same all-hands-on-deck mentality that was necessary to pull off Hall of Fame weekend. In Cooperstown, the money went into individual pockets. In Greene, it’s all about community.
At the end of the day is a fireworks displays that rivals many larger town’s 4th of July effort. It’s wonderful. After working hard and playing hard all day, they sit on the grass or on their blankets and watch together, families and friends, neighbors and co-workers, enjoying and celebrating together.
I don’t think I knew how Labor Day was meant to be celebrated until I moved here. Now, I feel blessed to be a part of it.
If you’re in upstate New York on Labor Day, stop on in. You won’t regret it.