Weather doesn't dampen Labor Day events


It's a big weekend for outdoor activities. For many people, Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.

This year, it appears to be ending on a wet note, with some rain Saturday and more forecast for the remainder of the holiday weekend.

That didn't stop people from attending Warmfest at Broad Ripple Park. Dave and Victorai Lynch were among those who came amply prepared for all sorts of conditions.

Pointing to a bag, Dave said, "We've got ice water, granola, umbrellas, blankets, something if it gets colder...It's good music whether it's wet or dry."

It's the second year for the four-day music fest, which boasts 60 bands, plenty of beer and even things like Tarot card readings.

Lee Bradford, who was setting up her both, said of the overcast skies and drizzle, "This is not me saying this as a tarot card reader, but as an Indiana resident: [we'll have] on-and-off rain. Expect rain. Always expect rain."

Asked if that means the show will go on, she laughed, "It will because we're Hoosiers, gosh darn it."

Dan Ripley is the man behind WARMfest. As the brochure says, "it's four days of art, recreation, music and more with a focus on stewardship of the White River."

He said a portion of any proceeds raised will go toward improvements to Broad Ripple Park and the riverfront.

Ripley said, "This area of the city and Broad Ripple Park in particular was once a resort and vacation area...It was once the Coney Island of the Midwest...We envision a day when we have boardwalks and green space and public docks and water taxis."

While he hoped WARMfest wouldn't turn into WETfest, most people arriving came with a "So what?" attitude.

Tyler and Erik Hromadka entered the gates covered with plastic bags.

"Sometimes summer is hotter or cooler," Tyler said.

"It's good to be out enjoying what people took time to put on regardless of conditions." Erik quickly added, "but I'd take an extra week or two [of warm weather] if we could get it."

Those behind the Labor Day Miracle Mile Parade and Gateway Fest also faced an uncertain forecast as they set up on Madison Avenue Saturday morning. It's the 8th year for the event, which is meant to showcase the near-south side.

Diane Gritt with PNC bank, one of the sponsors, has been part of the event since its start.

"Back in 2006, Jeff Cardwell [of the Gateway Community Alliance] had an idea - let's revitalize the south side of Indianapolis. Hence, we thought what better way to bring some identity to the south side than a parade?"

This year's parade included 84 entries and more than 1,300 people with former Indianapolis Fire Chief Brian Sanford serving as grand marshal.

Sanford said, "Through the parade route, you see lots of smiles. It's just fun to be part of."

Asked about Labor Day and what it means for American workers, he said, "Whether you're on the street, work in a factory or wherever, it's what's made this country what it is."

The Central Indiana Labor Council, meantime, hosted its second Labor Fest on Georgia Street. The festival, from 11am-6pm, replaced the annual Labor Day Parade.

Hundreds turned out to take in music, food and activities for children.

Glenn Shotts of Indianapolis was with family. Asked what Labor Day means to him, he said, "It's for hard workers, people who worked hard all year long. It's a day off to enjoy with family and friends."

Kristina Turner, who is active in a local union, said, "It's for working people. It's good for all of us to come out and support one another."

And she said that was regardless of the weather.

"Indiana, it's unpredictable. You never know what you might get here... it might catch us here in a minute!" she laughed.

Fortunately for her and others, the rain mostly held off - at least thru late afternoon.