Labor Day marked with parades, politics

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Parades, picnics and politicians celebrated the American worker on Labor Day, with President Barack Obama seeking votes from Ohio union members and rivals for Senate seats marching in Massachusetts and Virginia.

But for many, Monday’s holiday was a last chance to enjoy a final summer cookout, roller coaster ride or day at the beach. Or perhaps even a stroll from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to its Lower Peninsula — along the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Politics was a big part of Labor Day, the time when much of the public usually starts to pay attention to the campaigns.

Terence Glaze, a 47-year-old firefighter, waited to catch a glimpse of Obama’s motorcade at the president’s speech in Toledo, but his two young sons were eager to get to the movies instead.

“It’s a time for the family to be together and just spend time with one another. That’s the most important aspect,” Glaze said.

“But I do also think about the sacrifices unions have made, as it relates to wages, as it relates to safety issues,” he added.

Romney supporter Kenneth

Harbin, a member of the University of Toledo College Republicans, waved signs for his candidate outside the rally and scoffed at Obama’s decision to visit the labor stronghold.

“He’s gotta come home and say, ‘Here’s what I did for you. Now here’s what you can do for me,’” Harbin said.

There was a 5-mile march in Michigan, led by Gov. Rick Snyder. He and thousands of people walked across the Mackinac Bridge linking the state’s Upper and Lower peninsulas in a popular Labor Day tradition.

Snyder set a brisk 12-minute-per-mile pace in the walk, which runs from St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula to Mackinaw City.

Labor Day is the one time pedestrians can use the bridge across the Straits of Mackinac where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge.

“The walk was a blast because you’re with thousands of Michiganders,” Snyder said in a telephone interview after arriving in Mackinaw City.

Randall Ketchapaw, 33, of Wayland, has walked it every year since 1991 — 22 times — and is passing the tradition on to the next generation.

“My son here started when he was 3 months old,” Ketchapaw said. “This is his sixth walk. Sixth stroll, I should say.”

Along the streets of New York City’s borough of Brooklyn, people waved flags from their front stoops, drumbeats filled the air and women in brightly colored sequined costumes and feather headdresses danced to reggae music in the West Indian Day Parade.

Several hundred people lined streets in Buffalo, N.Y., to cheer members of about 50 unions as well as Irish step dancers, a high school marching band and Santa Claus and Abe Lincoln impersonators.

Earlier Monday, nearly 600 runners took part in the Labor Day Fleet Feet run through downtown Buffalo. The race raises money for Shoes on Students, which provides training shoes to high school students in need.

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