Framework

Labor Day parade

Sep. 4, 1939: A majorette leads one of the 20 bands in the annual Labor Day parade in downtown Los Angeles – a tradition going back to 1908.

An article in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times reported:

Out of the ships and factories, stores and offices, organized labor came together yesterday, thousands strong, to march in industry’s and business’ vast peace army. They were celebrating Labor Day, the day of days to the union men.

American Federation of Labor unions put on a two-hour parade over a downtown Los Angeles mile-and-a-half course and Grand Marshal Ralph McMullen estimated that several score thousands of men and women marched, 6 to 12 abreast, in front of the reviewing stand on the City Hall steps. An untold number of thousands lined downtown Broadway to see the spectacle.

The parade included about 50, floats, 20 bands and about 200 marching units. But, as reported in the Times, crowds was down and “the old-time hilarity of Labor Day paraders was lacking.”

The most likely reason: World War II had just broken out in Europe.

The same Times article also reported, “Union men began holding parades on Labor Day here in 1908. They have not missed staging one in the last five years.”

This image, taken at 7th Street and Broadway, was the lead art in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times local section front. A slow exposure led to the blurring of the batons.