Labor Day, East Chicago

Tom Palazzolo's documentary of Labor Day festivities in the blue-collar East Side of Chicago. Organized by the East Side Lions Club, Labor Day's 1978 celebrations included amateur boxing, clowns and the crowning of Miss East Side 1978.

00:20Copy video clip URL An accordion player and vocal group (seen from the back) end a musical performance on a wooden stage in front of a large crowd. The camera pans to East Side Lions volunteers and a few of the audience members. 

00:43Copy video clip URL Two young girls climb on a jungle gym with drum beats in the background.

00:50Copy video clip URL Drums continue as the camera (in footage taken from a moving car) pans across a highway. 

00:56Copy video clip URL Footage of children playing on a large playground. 

01:03Copy video clip URL The bars of the playground jungle gym fade into the Chicago Skyway Bridge. 

01:12Copy video clip URL Footage from the back of a young woman speaking to a large audience. She outlines three ‘wishes’ for the upcoming year, which aim to “keep the East Side as great as it could be.”

01:37Copy video clip URL A public football game in a large park; one man catches the ball as a police officer walks by. 

01:43Copy video clip URL A volunteer escorts a child without a shirt offstage during a beauty competition; several women sit on the side of the stage with cards showing numbers. 

01:55Copy video clip URL Shot of a steel structure which fades out. 

01:58Copy video clip URL An older woman directs a group of children to race across a lawn, in front of a large crowd. They are directed to do so on all fours. 

02:22Copy video clip URL Several organizers arrange microphones between activities on the stage. A few audience members wave and observe. 

02:42Copy video clip URL Two men laugh and observe as the children are directed to roll across the lawn in their next race. One child, who rolls too far, is laughingly told “that’s enough!” as various children make it to the unofficial finish line. 

03:03Copy video clip URL A man in a suit (revealed later to be involved with the city council) announces the winner to a competition in front of the large audience. 

03:19Copy video clip URL Children wait in line in front of a truck. One boy steps forward to receive a paper crown and something in a garment bag. 

03:26Copy video clip URL One young woman (Miss East Side 1977) jokes with two East Side Lion volunteers. 

03:34Copy video clip URL The competition winners are further announced while the camera cuts between various members of the audience; after some confusion, the winner is located. 

03:49Copy video clip URL The winner (a young boy) looks through an envelope of prize money while several other boys congregate around him to ask “how much did you win?” The winner puts the envelope in his pocket and continues walking across the grass. 

03:58Copy video clip URL The city council member thanks the audience and volunteers for their participation and looks forward to next year’s Labor Day festivities. He then informs a volunteer that he has to go back to the city hall. 

04:37Copy video clip URL Child winners of a costume competition are arranged in a line by a photographer. They are in costume and holding trophies. They are photographed by a variety of parents and bystanders. 

05:13Copy video clip URL East Side Lion volunteers rearrange the stage for live music. 

05:21Copy video clip URL Two East Side Lion volunteers discuss the value of holding just one share in a bank while the camera cuts between children onlookers, other volunteers and Miss East Side 1977.

05:53Copy video clip URL A group of school-age students prepare baton twirling, roller skates, and various instruments for a parade. The parade begins to assemble behind Miss East Side 1977.  

06:20Copy video clip URL Two children swing a friend from side to side. 

06:22Copy video clip URL Miss East Side 1977 and the 1978 competitors are led by East Side Lion volunteers through the audience to the prepared stage. Two musicians test a few chords and play music softly. Miss East Side sits on the stage as a volunteer welcomes the audience “to the Miss East Side Pageant.” Two young boys are shooed off the stage by a volunteer. 

07:47Copy video clip URL Two young men box, viewed by the audience. The audience shouts encouragements and their approval as the boxing match continues. 

07:56Copy video clip URL One Miss East Side contender finishes her walk across the stage. “Contestant 16” is revealed to be a clown, who is escorted across the stage to the audience’s delight. 

08:15Copy video clip URL The marching band moves across the lawn in front of a large audience, their instrumentalists playing off camera, but within the general vicinity. 

08:30Copy video clip URL The beauty pageant is briefly interrupted by an announcement for free glaucoma and diabetes screenings. 

09:34Copy video clip URL A volunteer begins a series of announcements in front of the beauty pageant contestants, asking the wife of one coworker to stand. 

09:48Copy video clip URL The boxing match continues, and a heavy punch is followed by a shot of the clown humorously hitting a man with their handbag. One fighter is allowed to continue after keeping his head up for seven seconds.

10:05Copy video clip URL Miss East Side speaks about her “responsibility […] to represent the East Side as best I could” and the ways she upheld that responsibility, from school to East Side Lion commitments. Footage of her win from the previous year is cut with her speech, which thanks the East Side Lions for their work and support.

11:38Copy video clip URL Dimly lit footage of elderly men and women entering a house; this cuts to reveal the inside of a poker house, and several tables of players.

11:55Copy video clip URL A contestant for Miss East Side is asked about community development (“what type of business does the East Side need?”).

12:16Copy video clip URL Three men congregate around one of the boxers, offering advice, coaching, and support. 

12:30Copy video clip URL Another contestant for Miss East Side is asked whether men and women should split the check on a date. She answers, to the crowd’s delight, that “if the man asks you out, he should pay the expenses.”

13:01Copy video clip URL Toddler-age children swing back and forth while their mothers speak in muffled tones in the background. 

13:14Copy video clip URL Another contestant for Miss East Side is asked which chores she might do to “lighten [her] mother’s workload.” She begins to answer, muffling a smile. The shot cuts to two children as the contestant speaks about her younger siblings, then back to the contestant, who lists more chores. 

13:52Copy video clip URL Young boys cheer and jump in the aftermath of the boxing match, still packed in rows near the ring. 

13:55Copy video clip URL Another contestant for Miss East Side is asked to pick a profession she’d like to continue into her adult life. She outlines her reasons for selecting “beautician”. 

14:37Copy video clip URL The marching band concludes their performance. The audience cheers, while another man offers detailed criticism of the performance. 

15:12Copy video clip URL Another contestant for Miss East Side is asked to suggest a way for young people to spend more leisure time in the East Side. Her suggestion, “a disco”, is interrupted with cheering. Footage of young men clapping to some unheard music interrupts this footage.

15:46Copy video clip URL Another Miss East Side contestant is asked where she would vacation. Citing the educational value of cultural differences, she chooses “Tahiti.” The question and answer segment continues as another contestant is asked “what is the second most popular topic of conversation when young ladies of your age get together.” The audience reaction to her answer is not shown. Brief footage of a judge’s table taking notes cuts between segments of her answer. Another contestant answers a different question, “the most desirable characteristic I expect a friend to possess […] is loyalty.”

17:18Copy video clip URL A dog walks alongside its owner as the previous contestant explains why she finds loyalty important. 

17:24Copy video clip URL As another Miss East Side contestant speaks about the importance of responsibility, the camera cuts to an image of a young couple kissing. 

17:40Copy video clip URL Another Miss East Side contestant is questioned. Then the pageant judges are asked to compile their results. Children hang on the side of the stage and shout their preferred winners. 

18:42Copy video clip URL The boxing  match continues, to the audience’s delight. Audible grunts and groans are heard from the boxers. 

18:56Copy video clip URL Children continue to list their preferred pageant winners, joined by a few adults.

19:12Copy video clip URL The boxing match concludes, and trophies are handed out accordingly. The winners are greeted by their family, and met with applause from the audience. 

19:53Copy video clip URL The pageant judges’ results are collected by East Side Lion volunteers. This is interspersed with more footage of boxing competitors leaving the ring with trophies, the marching bands, and a group of medics practicing basic First Aid on a young woman who has fainted. 

20:57Copy video clip URL Miss East Side 1978 is announced, to her delight and the crowd’s. She is crowned, given a cape, and photographed. Her parents join her onstage, and the crowd continues to cheer and chant. Other competitors leave their seats to congratulate her. 

24:53Copy video clip URL Footage takes a slightly distanced vantage point as Miss East Side is lifted into the air by the crowd alongside an American flag. 

25:19Copy video clip URL Miss East Side’s mother and father are interviewed. Both are fairly quiet, and two boys wave at the cinematographer from behind the parents. 

25:38Copy video clip URL Miss East Side is photographed holding her trophy and a bouquet of roses alongside East Side Lion volunteers and a large portion of the audience. A young girl holding a trophy with a bicycle is intercut with this footage. The camera zooms in on Miss East Side as she speaks with another volunteer. 

26:04Copy video clip URL An audience member, a young man, is interviewed about the pageant. He explains why the winner was the best choice. The camera then cuts to Miss East Side again, in communication with several young women and girls. 

26:39Copy video clip URL One marching band continues their performance across the lawn and another, having finished, exists the performance area, partially out of costume. 

26:55Copy video clip URL Miss East Side speaks with extended family, neighbors, and friends about her win. 

27:23Copy video clip URL An elderly woman makes conversation with two young men about their school plans. 

27:36Copy video clip URL Various parents and babies pose for a camera as a pastor begins to lead the audience in a collective prayer. The prayer focuses on “those who work” for more than financial gain. 

28:33Copy video clip URL The lawn is significantly less crowded; some people set up a barbecue on picnic tables while another man lies under a blanket.

28:44Copy video clip URL An accordion player sits on a stage, surrounded by audience members. Not far away a group of young people dance in unison. 

28:56Copy video clip URL End credits.  

29:07Copy video clip URL Overlays of various families and friends in the aftermath of the beauty pageant, music, contests,  and boxing match. This transitions from evening to night. 


1 Comment

  1. Harold Hanley says:

    Great memory. I was there, too, that year same as all the other years the East Side had this celebration. We miss them dearly.

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