NORRIDGEWOCK — People lined the streets Monday morning to watch the Oosoola Days Labor Day parade march through downtown. It was led by Norridgewock’s oldest resident, Ervina Goodridge, 98, and included politicians from around Somerset County.

Goodridge was awarded the Boston Post Cane, a walking cane with an ornate gold top that is given to the oldest residents of towns throughout New England.

“I’m flabbergasted,” she said of being chosen to lead the parade. Goodridge has lived in Norridgewock her whole life and said her secret to longevity is to keep busy and work hard.

A Labor Day holiday was first proposed in the 1880s during the rise of the labor movement and the establishment of trade unions. Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday in 1887. Congress approved legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday after the Pullman Strike of 1894, a nationwide railroad strike that shut down freight and passenger traffic in some parts of the country. U.S. marshals and army troops were called in to intervene and 30 people were killed during protests. The president at the time, Grover Cleveland, signed the holiday legislation to rebuild support from trade unions.

Danny McGowan, a Skowhegan resident who was watching Monday’s parade, said Labor Day means a lot to him. He said he favors a minimum wage increase.

“People who work for minimum wage should get some kind of an increase,” said McGowan, because the cost of living is increasing all the time.

State representatives and candidates from both major political parties participated in the parade.

Sen. Rod Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, said Labor Day is important because it gives people the opportunity to recognize workers, who are the backbone of America.

Democrat Ann Dorney, a candidate for the Maine House of Representatives District 111, said she supports an increase of the minimum wage because there are many people who can’t afford to live with the current wage.

“Workers and workers’ rights are very important,” she said.

“It’s a time to reflect on the labor movement,” said Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, who is running against Whittemore for the District 3 Senate seat. He said we should also remember the people who won’t get Labor Day off as a holiday.

Oosoola Park Family Day activities followed the parade. Val Trial, who grew up in Norridgewock and has been going to the event since she was 5, has now been running it for 20 years.

There has been an increase in attendees almost every year, depending on the weather, said Trial, the park president. This year the festival increased its advertising and added a bounce house for kids and a mechanical bull.

“It’s really awesome to see this kind of a turnout,” said Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock. The event lost momentum for a few years, he said, but has since regained its strength. “It’s great to see a community turn out again.”

The park events also featured a dunk tank run by the fire department. Jim Gordon, a firefighter, organizes the dunk tank to raise money for Santa for Senior Citizens, a program that delivers chocolate to seniors at Christmastime. Gordon is now delivering about 200 boxes each December.

Madeline St. Amour can be contacted at 861-9239 of at:

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