Celebrating Labor Day is a Pickerington tradition that dates to 1911 and for the last 69 years since festivities have been sponsored by the Pickerington Lions Club.
The Pickerington Lions Club Labor Day Parade and Fish Fry – with hundreds of pounds of fish expected to be sold – will be held Monday, Sept. 4.
The celebration begins with the traditional parade that steps off at 10 a.m. and winds through the heart of Olde Pickerington Village.
The theme of the Pickerington Labor Day Parade is "The Sound of Pickerington" and the 2017 grand marshal is Karen Sewell, wife of the late Mike Sewell, who was the long-time Pickerington High School Central band director.
"Karen has started a foundation in Mike's name to help band students so this is to honor her and also the memory of Mike Sewell," said Brian Fox, Lions Club spokesman.
Fox said Karen Sewell was instrumental in helping her husband make Marching Tigers become one of the best high school marching bands in the country.
"She and Mike were kind of a team. She's well known amongst the band folks here so she will have a lot of support at the parade," Fox said.
Lineup for the parade will begin at 8 a.m. at Central. The parade route will head north on Lockville Road, west on Columbus Street and south on Hill Road, ending at Ridgeview Junior High School.
Organizers said there is still time to register for the parade by calling Vanessa Niekamp at 614-441-3377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The fish fry starts at 11 a.m. in Victory Park. It will run until about 3 p.m. or until the fish runs out. Entertainment will once again be provided by DJ Chuck Steel. Free inflatable amusements will also be in the park.
Fox said the organization expects to fry about 500 pounds of perch in that short time span. He said the popularity of the Fish Fry is owed to a long-standing secret devised by a former Lions Club member.
"It's a secret recipe that very few people know about," Fox said. "It's written and hidden away. The late John Washington came up with it and passed it along," he said.
Whereas the Lions Club's primary charitable focus is to raise awareness and funding for sight-related disabilities, Fox said special attention this year is being paid to pediatric cancer funding.
"One of Lions Club International's initiatives is to raise money that will go towards helping kids with cancer," he said.
To that end, the Pickerington Lions Club will be selling pediatric cancer awareness wristbands in Victory Park. As with previous years, there also will be a cash raffle, which includes a first-place prize of $500 and two tickets to the Ohio State vs. Maryland football game.
"We'll be selling them all day at our raffle booth," Fox said. "A book of six tickets goes for $5."
The Pickerington Lions Club took over Pickerington's Labor Day festivities in 1949. It often was referred to as the "Homecoming" celebration.
Fox said there is no doubt it is Pickerington's longest-running event.
"Even before that another group of people ran it for 40 years. It was just citizens in the community that united to hold a homecoming. It was a big deal," he said.
The popularity of the Labor Day Parade and Fish Fry shows no signs of abating.
"It's just a good, family-friendly kind of event," Fox said.
"It's nice to be able to carry on the tradition today."