Florence enjoys Labor Day

Hundreds of spectators lined both sides of Main Street in Florence on Monday to watch the 82nd annual parade, which is part of the Florence Labor Day celebration. This year’s parade theme was, “99.96 Percent Pure Fun.” Patty Decker / Free Press
Hundreds of spectators lined both sides of Main Street in Florence on Monday to watch the 82nd annual parade, which is part of the Florence Labor Day celebration. This year’s parade theme was, “99.96 Percent Pure Fun.” Patty Decker / Free Press
The annual Florence Labor Day celebration was deemed a success, according to organizers.

Melanie Grimmett, one of the four members of the Labor Day committee, said this year’s event with the theme, “99.96% Pure Fun,” went well. The parade also highlighted the grand marshals, Harold and Shirley Grinstead, long-time residents and familiar faces in the city. The Grinstead’s recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

“We were nervous with the weather forecast predicting rain, but thankfully we didn’t have to worry about that,” she said. “We were also pleased with the attendance at the Saturday evening musical events featuring the Matt Engels band, followed by the Callahan band and street dance.”

Trayce Warner, committee member, said after the street dance, a new bar called, “Fuzzy’s Place,” owned by Jimmy Shipman, coordinated his opening by having a temporary license for the event, but is in the process of getting a permanent license through the state soon.

The parade on Monday saw between 250-300 spectators with Ruth Brooks of Florence holding the winning button worth $150, Grimmett said.

Warner added that button sales went over well this year, but T-shirt sales were slightly down.

The good news, though, is that T-shirts are still available for purchase to include small, medium, large, extra-large and possibly 1X and 2X, she said.

Another area of concern, both Warner and Grimmett talked about was the ball field, and if it would be too muddy for the vintage ball game.

“A lot of work went into getting the ball field prepared for Sunday’s vintage baseball game,” Melanie Grimmett said.

The volunteers making that happen included Mark, Cindy and Zane Slater and Tyson Grimmett, she said.

Warner said the vintage ball game was well attended Sunday night, but what probably made that possible was a decision by officials involved in the co-ed softball tournament.

The tournament, she said, was postponed, but is being rescheduled. And, Warner added that she wanted to thank the tournament organizers for making the decision not to play because if they had, the field would have been even muddier than it already was.

“And, if that happened,” Warner said, “the vintage baseball players wouldn’t have been able to play on the field.”

Donna Rosiere of Florence looks over the parade entries prior to the event on Monday. Standing behind her is Melanie Grimmett, committee member of the Labor Day celebration. Photos by Patty Decker/Free Press
Donna Rosiere of Florence looks over the parade entries prior to the event on Monday. Standing behind her is Melanie Grimmett, committee member of the Labor Day celebration. Photos by Patty Decker/Free Press
Warner, who supervised the bike decorating workshop, said there were nine young people participating, which was better than the past two years.

“We have had as many as 30 bikes at the workshop,” she said.

In addition to the parade on Monday, the Bryan Harper Memorial Horseshoe Pitching Contest saw 10 teams participating, she said.

“This was the lowest number of teams I’ve ever seen, but there were three other horseshoe tournaments this past weekend,” she said.

In summing up the three-day weekend, Warner said, this year’s Labor Day turned out very good.

“We had a lot of positives and very few negatives,” she said, “and there were also things I observed by just being there.

“The biggest thing that was mentioned was that a lot of the events didn’t last as long as some people had hoped,” she said.

Citing the postponement of the co-ed softball tournament was one, and the horseshoe pitching contest was another.

“In year’s past, we have had anywhere from 12 to 20 teams, and this year it was only 10 teams,” she said.

“I really want to thank Mark and Cindy Slater, and the Florence Fire Department,” Warner said. “They were invaluable throughout the weekend, and they are a big reason why the ball field was ready to go on Sunday.”

In addition, Warner said that her husband, Mike Warner, and Mark Slater were up early roping off the streets for the parade, and they, along with the rest of the fire department, took the roping down after the parade.

“The entire city crew of Florence deserves a big thank you for all they did to make sure the town was ready (for residents and visitors alike),” Warner said.

As for food service, Warner said, it was available for the entire weekend, adding that at the ballgame on Sunday, they were sold out of ice cream and hot dogs.

Another unexpected surprise this year happened on Monday when Melanie and husband, Tyler, Grimmett were called to the stage by Melvin Honeyfield, committee chairman, who presented them with a “Certificate of Appreciation” for all the work the couple puts in each year.

For a complete listing of all the winners from the weekend, please see our website.