The remnants of Hurricane Isaac couldn’t put a damper on Catlettsburg’s Labor Day traditions.

Just as they do every year, hundreds lined the streets of town for the annual Labor Day Parade. A morning shower left puddles throughout town, but the rain held off until well after the last float had finished the parade route.

“I’ve come every year of my entire life,” said Catlettsburg native Jenny Caperton, who was enjoying the parade with her father and two children, Isabella and Isaiah. “It is a family tradition. We don’t miss it rain or shine,” she said.

“You get to see all your friends that you grew up with; everyone comes in for the holiday,” she said. “The parade is the highlight, and then just talking to everybody in town — riding the rides and listening to the music.”

“I love all the pageant winners and the cars,” said Isabella Caperton. Her brother was waiting for the rides to open.

Nearby, teenage friends Christie Allen,  Shae Clark and Breann Rowe, all of Catlettsburg, were anxiously waiting for the rides to open after the parade and for the music to begin later.

“You get to see people you haven’t seen in a while,” said Rowe, who added she has friends who moved away she was hoping to see later in the day.

“And you can dance,” said Allen. “I dance all the time.” 

“Me, too!” said Clark, as they waited for friends and relatives in the parade to come through town.

“It’s a Catlettsburg thing. If you were born and raised here, you just come to the parade,” said Debra Arnett, who had accompanied the teens to the event.

Farther up the street, Lou Wechsler, who lived in Catlettsburg for 14 years before moving to Kenova, was enjoying the parade with her boyfriend, Russell Crump. The pair had decades on the teen girls down the street, but were still clearly enjoying their morning, waving at the floats as they passed.

“I feel like I am home over here,” Wechsler said. “I haven’t missed one since they have been going on,” she said. “I love the parade, the schools and all. I love everything. It’s fun.”

The cause for all the celebrating? The American worker and organized labor were front and center in Catlettsburg.

Kroger employee and union member Kim Hieneman was busy putting hamburgers and hot dogs on buns under the Ashland Area Labor Council tent, where a line had formed for lunch after the parade. “We like to spend our time helping people and being out amongst the community,” she said.

Dave Martin of Rush brought his boys, Caleb and Alex, to the parade and help the labor council serve lunch. Martin, who works at Marathon’s Catlettsburg Refinery, is also vice president of United Steel Workers Local 8-719.

“We came out to see the parade and celebrate,” he said. “We have made it every year to celebrate all that has been brought before — all of our forefathers and our rights and just to celebrate the working class.”

Martin said he talks to his sons “all the time” about the subject. “They are well educated in it,” he said.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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