A Labor Day tradition in one central Vermont community forces political candidates to come up with a “plan B” if they want get their message out at the event.
“It was becoming a parade of politicians,” Wendy Rae of the Northfield Labor Day organizing committee recalled of the town’s parade in years past.
The event decided some time ago to boot political floats and official campaign displays from the parade route.
“We want it to be a unifying opportunity for our community, and sometimes, politics can just defeat that purpose,” Rae said of the parade.
Northfield instead showcases nonprofit groups and Norwich University’s impressive Corps of Cadets.
Politicians are still welcome at the event, and you do see them working the sidelines in election years, just not walking the parade route itself.
“The people in Vermont are friendly, whether they support you or not,” said Don Turner, the Republican running for lieutenant governor.
Turner’s campaign has seen him marching in 15 or so parades this year across Vermont, he said, until Northfield.
“Each community that has a parade has every right to make the rules that they want,” Turner said. “I’ve heard that a lot of parades are just politicians marching, so I respect that.”
Longtime parade-goer Lily Cook said she was glad for a break from political messages.
“You get an awful lot of calls on the phone, you know, all the time,” Cook said. “The parade should be the parade–for Labor Day!”
Several candidates who did come to Northfield said even though they couldn’t march, the big gathering gave them a chance for face-to-face conversations with voters—folks they’ll need to reach in the two months until Election Day.