PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Labor Day without a parade in Pittsburgh is almost impossible to imagine.
But this year the parade, one of the largest in the country, has been canceled because of the pandemic, so local labor leaders are trying to turn the cancellation into something positive.
The Labor Day Parade in downtown Pittsburgh has always been a grand affair, attracting thousands of participants, young and old, and plenty of politicians from both political parties, kicking off the political season.
But not this year.
“It was a decision that none of us felt good making, but at the end of the day, safety first,” said Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny/Fayette Central Labor Council.
“It was the right decision. We’re responsible for keeping people safe, not just our members, but the region,” Kelly told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Friday.
Kelly says local unions are instead doing a weekend of service and caring, which began Friday morning with a food distribution to those in need.
“We did over 500 cars today. Each box had over 10 meals, so with the five emergency distributions that we’ve done since the pandemic, we’ve provided over 300,000 not just warm meals, but hope.”
On Saturday, members of local unions will focus on a major park clean-up in the Mon Valley.
“We will have a beautification of Renzie Park in McKeesport, basically cleaning and planting and landscaping, fixing up some basketball courts,” he says.
Then the focus on Sunday turns to restoring and cleaning a veterans memorial in Crafton Heights.
“Our memorials to our veterans — it’s not just a place with names on it. It’s a place of honor,” says Kelly.
While the parade on Monday is off, the annual Labor Mass, socially distanced, is still on for St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland at 8:15 a.m. Monday.