Annual Labor Day Parade set for Monday

Published 10:30 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

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One of the year’s highlights in Winchester is just around the corner: the annual Labor Day Parade.

The parade will kick off at noon on Monday, Sept. 4, and will move along Main Street.

It will feature a host of familiar faces and marching bands.

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“We always have the George Rogers Clark Marching Band. This is always about our hometown. So they always come out and put on a great show,” said Sherry Hampton, who is in charge of public relations for the Winchester Labor Day Committee. “They are a host to the other bands.”

Also returning for another year of energizing the crowds will be the Kentucky State Marching Band and the band from Simmons College of Kentucky, which is located in Louisville.

The band’s respective performances have become a crowd favorite over the years.

“I think that it is just the pep and the multicultural aspects of it. It is something that we do not see at all at the local high school rallies. Everybody enjoys the dancers and the upbeat music,” Hampton said about the marching band’s enduring appeal.

The rest of the parade roster will include the Labor Day Queen and the rest of the parade’s royal court, local pageant winners, step teams, local lodges and many more.

However, the parade is part of a larger celebration that will be held along West Washington Street and in Heritage Park.

On Friday, Sept. 1, the weekend will commence with mixing and mingling for George Rogers Clark High School alumni under the stars with music provided by DJ Sixx.

The committee hopes school spirit will be in the air beforehand on Friday.

“We are encouraging everyone to go out and support GRC football,” Hampton said.

Vendors will be in the park all weekend.

The festivities on Saturday, Sept. 2, will kick off at 2 p.m. with kid’s activities sponsored by Ale-8-One. This special time, which ends at 4 p.m., will include inflatables, games, prizes, corn hole and more music from DJ Sixx.

Cincinnati, Ohio’s Positive Vibe will perform from 4-7 p.m..

At 7 p.m., the committee invites folks to come and try and break the world record for a Soul Train dance line. The current record is 537 dancers.

From 8-11 p.m., the 1SoundBand from Lexington will perform, followed by a DJ in the park.

On Sunday, Sept. 3, the vendors open at 10 a.m., and at 2:30 p.m., there will be Gospel in the park courtesy of Rev. Virgil Hill. A performance by Encore will last from 8-11 p.m.

On Monday, before the parade, Joyful Souls will perform on the Clark County Courthouse steps and from 1:30-4p.m., the Tim Talbert Project will perform in the park.

The Labor Day Parade and the entire weekend hold a special place in the annals of Winchester’s Black community.

“We started this back in 1904, our ancestors did,” said Flora Shelby, the band’s executive director. “They did it big, they did it really big. They would go to Harmon Field and have a picnic that would last all day.”

The festivities would move to clubs along Oliver Street as the sun set.

Over time, the parade would grow to incorporate the surrounding area.

“We would march around the local streets. We did not come to Main Street,” Shelby said. “It is a traditional thing that has gotten better and bigger.”

The weekend has become a homecoming for Winchester’s Black community, and the committee wants to keep going for a long time to come.

“When our ancestors started this, it was them doing something for our own community, a multicultural community. That is what we call a true Black family reunion,” Hampton said. “Our ancestors started it and it is something that we do not want to end. Our heritage really did start just off of Washington Street.”