Ontonagon celebrates Labor Day with town's largest parade to date

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ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - "I think that's why people like to come to Ontonagon because the parade is so unusual, you never know what's going to show up," laughed Bill Chabot, Honorary co-chairman of Ontonagon's Labor Day Festival.

For 2018 more than 1,000 people took to the town's main streets for the 62nd annual Labor Day Parade. This year's is the largest parade to date.

"All we say is, 'You want to put a float in the parade, put a float in the parade, do it in good taste and just have yourself a world of fun,'" explained Chabot. "And we get some of the most unusual and wonderful floats you've ever seen."

"We have a lot of fun with it, we're pretty loose with the rules and we have a lot of participation," said Margo Anderson, serving her first year as co-chairman of Ontonagon's Labor Day Festival.

Chabot and Anderson say the parade draws as many as 5,000 spectators. For 2018 more than 10 hand-crafted displays floated down the city's main streets.

"There's nothing like it," beamed Anderson. "It's the oldest and I would say the best festival in the Upper Peninsula."

Synsel Energy, the biofuel plant building its newest operation in Ontonagon, served as Parade Marshall. Some groups worked for more than three months on their floats in the hopes of winning first place-$500 and bragging rights.

"You know it just kind of makes the day," said Chabot.

2018 is a special festival for both Chabot and Anderson. Chabot and Jan Tucker will be stepping down as co-chairman of their city's Labor Day festivities. Anderson and her peers will step in to some pretty big shoes as they take over the city's celebration.

"It's about having fun," said Chabot. "Come to Ontonagon, have fun and just totally enjoy yourself."

"They have been so gracious to walk us through everything from when the barricades need to go up to how to make sure the bands get here on time so there's a lot that goes into it," said Anderson when speaking to how Chabot and Tucker have mentored the new chairmen.

Chabot says holding the parade the Sunday before Labor Day gives folks the chance to celebrate the holiday with their families. Festivities will continue on Labor Day afternoon as the kid parade takes their turn.

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