First bloodied, then muddied
If it's a holiday, it must mean there's a parade.

Chicago celebrated its first official Labor Day on Sept. 3, 1894, with a massive parade of more than 20,000 marchers representing more than 60 unions. The endless line of "wage-earners" trudged more than five miles in a heavy rain over unpaved streets that quickly dissolved into mud.

The Tribune said that didn't dampen anybody's spirit: "They forgot the discomforts and fatigue" and "fell into the ranks with a proper spirit of pride and goodwill." The weather also didn't deter thousands of spectators from lining the route to cheer on "husbands," "fathers" and "sweethearts," as the paper reported.

The ambitious parade stepped off at the Bricklayer's Hall on the West Side, snaked through the Loop and tramped north to the Abraham Lincoln statue in Lincoln Park before turning west to Ogden's Grove, a picnic area on Clybourn Avenue.

The carpenters union, represented by 3,000 marchers, and the painters unions, with 2,800 members present, led the festivities. A dizzying array of unions followed, representing plumbers, gas fitters, plasterers, marble cutters, brick-makers, bricklayers, mosaic tile layers, hat-makers, clothing cutters, marble polishers, brewers, coopers, sewer laborers, lathers, horseshoers, machinists, shirt-makers and silk hat finishers. Stuck in the muddy rear of the parade were the 5,000 men of the American Railway Union, which had just been broken by federal troops in the Pullman Strike.

Not surprisingly, during post-parade speeches, President Grover Cleveland's name was met with boos and hisses.

Stephan Benzkofer