published Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

A lazy Labor Day in the Chattanooga area

Marley Sloan, 6, left, and her sister Ember Sloan, 4, hesitantly touch a catfish caught by their uncle, Raymond Sloan, at Chickamauga Lake Monday afternoon. It was the first time the girls had been fishing, and they braved the rain while the rest of the family congregated in a nearby picnic shelter.
Marley Sloan, 6, left, and her sister Ember Sloan, 4, hesitantly touch a catfish caught by their uncle, Raymond Sloan, at Chickamauga Lake Monday afternoon. It was the first time the girls had been fishing, and they braved the rain while the rest of the family congregated in a nearby picnic shelter.
Photo by Alyson Wright.
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    John Thetford, Ralph Williams, and Kenneth Johnson, from left, fill up barbecue plates with pulled pork, baked beans, and cole slaw Monday at the Red Bank Labor Day Barbecue. The event was a fundraiser for the Red Bank Masonic Lodge.
    Photo by Alyson Wright.
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From a Coolidge Park bench, Ray Ryan called for his 9-year-old daughter Paige rollerblading on the sidewalk to turn around and skate back toward him. His youngest daughter, Piper, sat across from him.

Before his girls came along, Ryan said, he would work Labor Day if he needed to, but now he sees the last holiday of summer as a chance to spend more time with his family.

"I guess you could call it family exercise day," he said.

As dark clouds moved in Monday afternoon, some couples and families still tried to enjoy a lazy summer day outside, saying it was their last chance to relax before a busy school year and more high-pressure holidays.

"This is one of my favorite holidays because it's noncommittal," said Desiree Pillsbury. "You don't have to give gifts. You don't have to travel. You don't have to do anything."

Pillsbury, who was enjoying the day with her husband Jamie and 20-month-old son Miles, said she also sees this holiday as ushering in the fall.

And Shirlene Stone, who was walking across Walnut Street Bridge with her daughter and two grandchildren, agreed.

"This is my major countdown to Christmas," she said with a laugh.

Last week, Stone said, she packed her car with Christmas music, justifying that fall was on the way.

For others, Labor Day represents giving back to the community.

In Red Bank, the local masonic lodge hosted its annual barbecue, serving pulled pork, coleslaw and beans for $8 a plate. The money raised goes to help Red Bank schools, lodge member Dave Coburn said.

"We prepare for this for months," he said. "It's something we enjoy doing."

Still others like Cecil Brown, who sat inside the Coolidge Park pavilion eating from a can of beans on his lunch break, said Labor Day means celebrating hard work.

Brown, an Erlanger retiree, said he knows the value in putting your whole heart into your work and he is proud to keep the downtown park, an icon for the Scenic City, beautiful.

"It's a very important job that we keep Chattanooga neat and clean and superior," he said. "It's a lot of hard work, but it's a worthy job."

And as a Vietnam veteran, Brown said, he knows how hard life can get, and he is just thankful for the ability to work.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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