Oak Creek celebrates Labor Day with fun and fanfare
September 4, 2017
Walk alongside someone who is marching in Oak Creek's Labor Day parade, and you're sure to find a good story.
Take Shirlene White, for example, who walked with the Tracks and Trails Museum contingent, throwing candy to children who jumped up and down, clamoring for more.
Wearing an old purple dress and carrying an ornate white lace umbrella, White looked as though she had just walked off the set of an old Western movie.
She got the dress in Tombstone, Arizona, to look as if she were from the days of gunslinger Doc Holliday.
It was White's fourth time in the Labor Day Parade, and she loved every minute of it.
"It's warming to see your family watching on from the sidewalk," White said.
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Hundreds of people packed this usually quiet old mining town Monday to partake in the annual Labor Day tradition.
There were men on stilts, classic cars, sirens and lots and lots of candy.
This year's parade also doubled as something else: a celebration of the recent completion of construction on Main Street.
Oak Creek residents and drivers have had to keep off of Main all summer because of the project.
"We've been waiting for this for awhile," Tanya Taing, of Rachels Smokin BBQ, said.
Taing said the closure of the portion of Colo. Highway 131 that runs through the center of Oak Creek's business district has impacted the business and led to lower numbers this year.
After the parade, the hundreds who had lined Main Street began to converge in Decker Park.
Firefighters grilled burgers, and children lined up at arts and craft booths.
Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said there are many people who travel religiously to Oak Creek every year for the annual Labor Day celebration.
For many, the event is a sort of family reunion.
"It's pretty amazing for such a small town," Terry Green said while he was taking pictures of the parade.
Oak Creek has for decades hosted big Labor Day events.
But the celebration held Monday was much more well-attended than the Labor Day event that took place here 100 years ago, in 1917.
According to the Steamboat Pilot archives, a ball game in another old mining town, Mount Harris, might have had something to do with it.
"There was no program in Oak Creek on Labor Day," the Pilot reported. "Practically all the business houses were closed, and very few miners worked. Most of the citizens went fishing or attended the ball game at Mt. Harris."
In later years, newspaper reports paint a picture of town leaders in Oak Creek trying to build upon bigger and better celebrations each year.