By Rick Dayton

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — From Pipefitters to politicians, they were all together for the annual Labor Day Parade through the streets of Pittsburgh Monday morning.

The Steel City is home to the largest Labor Day parade in the country. This year’s even featured more than a dozen marching bands and entertainment groups — not to mention tens of thousands of union members walking through town.

WATCH: Labor Day Parade —

 

If you didn’t know any better, you may have confused the start of the parade for a tailgate party at a football game. The grills were fired up long before the first units stepped off near PPG Paints Arena Uptown at 10 a.m.

“The food, and they have a few activities for the kids to be able to enjoy,” says Brittany Wilburn.

Her husband is a union laborer. Together their family of five marched in the parade together. She glanced at her three kids who were waving American flags, then continued, “Of course the flags and everything. They get to run around and have a good time.”

There were a lot of people, like Wilburn, talking about family.

“The importance of family is everything to us,” says parade organizer Steve Mazza. “I mean without family structure, without what they believe in, we wouldn’t have anything.”

An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people walked in the parade Monday morning, making it the largest Labor Day parade in the country.

John Hughes says the parade has been a big part of his Labor Day for many years.

“My whole family was Boilermakers. My dad, my uncles. My son’s a fourth generation boilermaker now, so just a family thing,” he said.

Hughes has spent 42 years with the Boilermakers Union, Local 154.

There were a lot of familiar faces working the crowd too, including Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, all Democrats.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“You see a lot of old friends, but you see a lot of new friends,” says Fitzgerald. “People bring the next generation who needs to learn about a lot of the history of what has gone on in the Labor Movement — really, that in a lot of ways, was born here.”

Wilburn says she is very glad that high-paying union jobs are available for her husband.

“It’s a good thing that we’ve got the union still available here for us. My family. We come down here to have some fun, and be here for my husband,” she said.

A lot of people were talking about family.

“We consider ourselves a brotherhood. We are a big family,” says Hughes.

The Boilermakers Union 154 has a lot of big events throughout the year.

“We have a big picnic after [the parade]. We get all the family. We do Kennywood for the families. We do a big Christmas for the kids at the Science Center, so we are involved with the community,” he said.

There was free Port Authority T services for people heading over to Heinz Field for the last day of the Kickoff and Rib Festival. But, both T and bus service are running on a holiday schedule today. The Mon and Duquesne Incline schedules are also lighter today.

In honor of the Labor Day holiday, all City of Pittsburgh offices and Healthy Active Living Centers are closed today.

Trash and recycling pickup is also delayed a day this week.

City pools are open from 1 p.m. until 5:45 p.m.

Allegheny County offices are also closed today.

But golf courses and spray parks are open, along with the county pools from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.