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SALT LAKE CITY — Designated a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day celebrates the contributions workers have made to the “strength, prosperity and well-being of our country,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Parades and festivals became the pattern for the early celebrations, and later, speeches were introduced as there became more emphasis on the economic and civic significance of the holiday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.
While some cities still hold parades, like Park City’s “Miners Day” parade, which celebrates the city’s mining heritage, many Labor Day celebrations today focus on last-minute summer activities with friends and family, with little thought to the true meaning of the holiday.
This year, consider getting back to celebrating the American worker with one or more of the following activities:
Take your child to work
If you’re one who has to work on Labor Day, ask if you can take your child to work with you so you can share what you do and why you do it. Introduce them to the different employees and explain the importance of each job and how it benefits the company and society overall. If you have the day off, take them to work the week before or after, if they aren't in school yet.
Volunteer in the community
Kick off a new tradition by finding somewhere in the community that needs volunteers. Many programs struggle to find help outside of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so call the United Way or Habitat for Humanity or search for volunteer opportunities at the Just Serve website.
Tour a farm, factory or museum
Get a taste of what it’s like to be a farmer by visiting Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, which includes farm animals, as well as hands-on exhibits. In the soil-to-market classroom, you will learn how food is transported to the grocery store.
You can also visit local factories in the area, like the Sweet Candy Company, which has made candies in Salt Lake City since 1900 or you can visit Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Chocolates & Ice Cream in North Salt Lake City. Learn about careers in science, technology, art and creativity at The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City or learn how to make soap at the Soap Factory in Provo.
Visit police or fire stations
First responders don’t get the holiday off, so plan a tour to learn more about their jobs. Tour fire trucks, ambulances and even try on their gear. Keep in mind that emergency response is the priority, so there’s a possibility that your tour will be canceled if they are needed elsewhere.
Shop local or buy products made in the U.S.
While you might still want to take advantage of the Labor Day sales, make your shopping more meaningful by looking for items that are “Made in America” or even made locally.
Whether shopping at one of the local malls such as University Place in Orem, the Outlets at Traverse Mountain in Lehi, Fashion Place Mall in Murray or City Creek in Salt Lake City or at a local festival like Swiss Days in Midway or the Beehive Bazaar Craft Fair in Provo, read the labels on products and help promote the U.S. economy.
No matter how you celebrate Labor Day, plan to spend at least a little time educating your family on why we have the day off and appreciate the value that hard work brings to families and society.
Born and raised in Utah, Joel Racker enjoys traveling with his wife and four children in Utah and beyond. He has served as the president/CEO of Explore Utah Valley since 2003. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.