Ripley celebrates Labor Day with largest parade ever - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ripley celebrates Labor Day with largest parade ever

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(WMC-TV) - It is a Labor Day tradition in Ripley, Tennessee.

The holiday starts with a huge parade in downtown and ends in Rice Park.

Hundreds come from all over for the entire weekend to celebrate food, family, friends, and fellowship.

From the long line outside Lee's BBQ in Rice Park, you can tell business is good.

"This is all about the history of Ripley and Lauderdale County. We have people here from all 50 states," said Ripley Mayor John Pavletic.

The Labor Day festivities started with a huge parade down Washington Street in downtown Ripley.

Hundreds lined the street to watch.

Even organizers say Monday's parade was the largest ever, with more than 100 entries.

"When I was a little girl growing up, it's been going on more than 60 years and this was one of the largest and most successful years," said parade coordinator Paula Boger.

Boger says people plan their vacations around the Labor Day weekend festivities.

She says many take off work an entire week to come and enjoy what Ripley has to offer.

"It's just coming home to see family and friends all over again. That's the beauty of this for all the family reunions, class reunions ... People really enjoy themselves," she adds.

School bands, dancers and even families themselves enter the annual parade.

The Labor Day weekend is steeped in history and most agree the holiday just wouldn't be the same without it.

"That's where the tradition started for Lauderdale County, on the church grounds of the Miles Chapel and Holly Grove Baptist Church and we've just expanded," said Boger.

For Harriet Parker Coleman, it has been a busy weekend spent in her kitchen cooking.

 "Fried catfish, briskets, sandwiches, polish sausage sandwiches," said Coleman.

Coleman has played hostess to anywhere from 50 to 100 people all weekend.

And all over Ripley, other families have been doing the very same thing.

"We don't miss it for anything.  My son had a football game today but we're here instead because that's more important.  That's what its all about," said Anthony Finch, who lives in Chicago.

Despite the good food, families come together every Labor Day for the fun and fellowship.

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