By Cassandra Yany
In the face of COVID-19, Labor Day weekend looked very different his year. Absent were the large family cookouts and pool parties, or the big end-of-summer beach crowds. Many cities even had to omit public fireworks to prevent mass gatherings. Though the long weekend did not bring the celebrations we’re used to, there were still plenty of safe ways to enjoy the holiday.
Virtual events allow you to take part in more activities in different locations than you would have been able to physically. Made in America, a festival started by Jay-Z in 2012, was set to take place in Philadelphia this past weekend. On July 1, festival organizers announced that it would be rescheduled to Labor Day weekend 2021. They said in a statement “Collectively, we are fighting parallel pandemics, COVID-19, systemic racism and police brutality. Now is the time to protect the health of our artists, fans, partners and community as well as focus on our support for organizations and individuals fighting for social justice and equality in our country.”
This year’s lineup went unannounced, but last year’s festival was headlined by Travis Scott and Cardi B. Since the physical festival was canceled, a livestream showcasing the best performances took place on the music streaming service TIDAL throughout the weekend. The virtual festival included sets from Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Lizzo, Coldplay, Rihanna and many other chart-topping artists.
Nationally, a Labor Day virtual race was held by The Best Races for runners to run anywhere on their own time and submit their results. Participants who registered for the full package received a personal coach who was available Monday through Friday to provide help and answer questions during training, and provided encouragement and support on the day of the race.
Runners across the country were able to choose the distance of the race they wanted to participate in. Depending on what package they signed up for, they received a certificate of completion and digital medal, a 3-inch medal sent to their homes, a printable custom bib, a custom digital photo card that contains the race results, a digital running journal, a t-shirt, optional course maps and an optional pen pal program.
Based in Portland, the Oregon Labor Movement held a statewide virtual Labor Day celebration and call to action on Monday. The organizers brought light to issues taking place in the state saying, “Working Oregonians are facing three crises at once: a deadly global pandemic, an economic free fall, and long-standing institutional racism.”
The event began at noon and featured talks from Oregon’s labor leaders, elected officials, and working Oregon citizens regarding their desire for change and their pursuit toward justice for workers. This event came after Portland’s rise to national prominence for their Black Lives Matter demonstrations and federal agents entering the city in recent months.
A number of virtual events were held in Los Angeles this past weekend, as well. HomeState, the LA-based Texas Kitchen, held its first Margarita Showdown in 2019, but had to move it online this year due to the pandemic and social distancing measures. The virtual event took place Saturday via livestream. Margarita makers in the area competed to see whose drink was the best.
Voters received eight bottled margaritas, along with limes and garnishing salt to try the different submissions from the safety of their homes. The winner chosen was El Compadre, a local Mexcian restaurant. The event was hosted by comedian Cristela Alonzo, and featured musical performances by Chicano Batman, Spoon, Questlove, Fred Armisen, Local Natives and Angela Muñoz. All proceeds from the event benefit the organization No Us Without You! and the Watts Empowerment Center.
The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories in Santa Monica hosted a virtual Labor Day Pies class on Sunday. In the class, participants were taught how to make a s’mores pie and key lime pie. Registration for the class included access to the Zoom video meeting, as well as the recipe and shopping list. Recipes can also be found on Gourmandise’s Instagram.
Some cities were able to hold in-person events following social distancing guidelines. Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, located in the Seaport District, upheld its tradition of free admission on Labor Day. The museum is typically closed on Mondays, but was open from 10 am to 5 pm for guests who reserved tickets.
Monday was the last day for guests to see the exhibits Tschabalala Self: Out of Body and Carolina Caycedo: Cosmotarrayas. Also on display were the Sterling Ruby, Nina Chanel Abney and Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art after Kusama exhibits. The ICA has increased cleaning and follows Massachusetts COVID guidelines by requiring all staff and visitors to wear face coverings, and allowing a restricted number of guests each hour. Spaces that don’t allow physical distancing are temporarily closed, and exhibition labels and printed materials have been made available online to reduce touch surfaces.
In New York City, a Labor Day Paint in the Park event was held in Central Park. The two-hour socially distant class was led by a master artist who gave step-by-step painting instructions. Participants were required to wear masks and sit six feet apart. Admission included a pre-sketched canvas and painting supplies, and parties were encouraged to bring food and drinks to snack on during the class.
For those who wanted to enjoy the holiday by relaxing at home with their favorite movie or TV show, a number of stores had sales to mark the end of summer. There were countless deals that shoppers could take advantage of to celebrate their work.
Many workers have faced great adversity within the past eight months, some losing their positions and having to move quickly to find a new one, and others doing their job in a way they never thought they would have to. Whether you stayed in or got out of the house for some socially-distant fun, Monday was definitely a day worth celebrating.