No Labor Day parade, but one Northfield tradition went on

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 7:06 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2020 at 7:49 PM EDT
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - Northfield was quiet this Labor Day. The town usually hosts one of the state’s largest Labor Day parades. But our Kayla Martin found one tradition that’s still going strong there.

“Feels different you know because here down in the county, this would be a crowd here, very big crowd,” said Robert Piekarski, the commander of the Northfield American Legion.

It’s tradition for the town to be packed with people, music, vendors and more on Labor Day, and this year it’s a ghost town. But this small town won’t let the pandemic take away all of their traditions.

“It’s a tradition that the legions always had a barbecue, chicken barbecue every Labor Day right here. So we wanted to try it and see how it worked, and it’s been tremendous,” Piekarski said.

In a time when so many traditions are being canceled, the American Legion wanted to do something to bring some sort of normalcy to this day in particular. Some of the cooks preparing the chickens have a family tradition of their own.

“I’m the father and I’m trying to teach these two how to cook so I don’t have to cook no more,” Kerry Kelley said with a laugh.

There are three generations of chicken cookers for the American Legion yearly barbecue. They aren’t just helping out. They are handing down the tradition from generation to generation.

The Labor Day Parade is a staple in this town, but not all residents enjoy the hustle and bustle.

“Sometimes we purposely leave town so that we don’t have to be part of it because it’s a lot, it’s a lot of noise all of a sudden in Northfield,” one said.

American Legion Vice Commander Jeffrey Ott was happy to keep part of the tradition alive.

“We kept a little bit of Labor Day going,” Ott said.

And he’s hoping things will be closer to normal next year.

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