Building community at the Upland Labor Day Festival - The Echo News
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Building community at the Upland Labor Day Festival

An inside look at Upland’s Labor Day festivities

A local firefighter waves at the crowd as the fire engines advance down the streets of Upland. (Photograph by Hannah Bolds)

A local firefighter waves at the crowd as the fire engines advance down the streets of Upland. (Photograph by Hannah Bolds)

By Grace Hooley | Echo

People line the streets as horses, fire trucks and floats meander down Main Street in downtown Upland. Smiles and candy are all around as the community comes out to celebrate. The marching band and tractors entertain as the town of Upland decked in red, white and blue American flags celebrates Labor Day with a festival that has been going on for the past 71 years.

Each year, the Upland Lions Club puts on a Labor Day festival. This year, it started Saturday, Sept. 2 and ended Monday evening, Sept. 4. The festival included annual activities such as a chicken noodle dinner, ice cream social, car show, yard sales and a parade,  as well as some new activities such as a greenway bicycle repair and a fireworks display at the Upland Lions Club grounds.

On Monday at 8 a.m., the Upland and Taylor community participated in a 5K run/walk. Freshman Taylor Burns and sophomore Hudson Taylor ran the 5K through Upland for the first time. They sat with four other friends at The Bridge afterward, enjoying their morning accomplishment.

“It was fun to go and see the town, and it was a fun moment to engage in the community,” Burns said.

After the 5K, the parade began at the Eastbrook South campus at 10 a.m. and ended at the Lions Club grounds about an hour later. Float participants made their own entry cards and threw candy. Some decorated their floats, while others drove fancy cars full of people.

Airiel Stepp and her 3-year-old son Hunter sat on the sidewalk awaiting the beginning of the parade. Stepp’s 7-year-old stepdaughter, Allyson Stepp, rode a horse with the Wranglers. They live in Marion but come to Upland each year for the yard sales; this was their first year at the parade.

“Compared to Marion, they try to do a lot more family things,” Stepp said. “I really appreciate them thinking of those of us with smaller children.”

Cindy Wright, district governor of the Upland Lions Club, told the Echo the Lions Club works with the Historical Society and the Fire Department to put on the events for the festival. The celebration was originally one day, but as the community grew and more people began to come, the festival evolved to encompass an entire weekend. Either way, Wright is glad to be helping celebrate something like Labor Day in Upland.

“I’m helping people create memories of why they live in Upland,” Wright said. “The little ones have something to do and the old ones don’t have to sit at home and do nothing. Anytime anyone has activities they would like to see happen, let the Lions Club know. Just so people will pass along ideas, and it’ll help.”

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