Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – Labor Day has been
huge in Chapin for decades. Each year they play host to thousands who trek to the northern most portion of the county to enjoy the Chapin Labor Day Festival. Saying that thousands attend and enjoy themselves annually really doesn’t describe the experience. This is a densely packed sea of people who are loving a great town full of great people having a great time!
Labor Day in Chapin is as close to turning back the clock as it gets. From the first siren of the parade until the festival culminates Monday afternoon, people experience small town life few places can produce today. It’s a model for our children of what life was in days gone by.
The transformation begins at parade line up. The large parking lot at HireRight (formerly GIS) comes to life with chatter, laughter, and color as hordes of people gather for the parade’s start. Everyone who is or ever has run for an office in the area or across the state must attend on election years. The politicians start visiting and handshaking. Soon, that becomes contagious. As more folks get their parade floats finished, they start walking around, shaking hands, and being neighborly too. A few teens have phones intently snapping, tweeting, but more don’t than do.People are walking and talking to one another and acting neighborly again!
As the parade starts, Chapin Road is shoulder to shoulder parade viewing. The entire route is this way. Rarely do you see a parade with this attendance. If you don’t get your spot several hours before the parade, you won’t park near the route. If you wait until 30 minutes before the parade starts to grab your spot, you’ll be lucky if you find a place to stand. Almost no heads are lowered into tiny phone screens as kids dash about collecting candy offered by parade participants. Chapin’s parade takes candy and freebies to a whole new level! People build candy catchers complete with buckets for the sweets to drop into underneath. These look suspiciously like basketball goals that are repurposed for this; An example of American ingenuity openly on display by the route.
After the parade, the crowds migrate one street over to Beaufort and Clark where the party continues. Here you’ll find people, booths, and displays of all types. Some give away things while others sell. Some are just trying to catch your attention long enough to tell you about their organization or cause.
There’s a car show with beautiful examples of Detroit engineering. You’ll also see the latest, greatest vehicles from across the globe. People stroll, yes stroll along the streets talking with one another. The smart phones are almost invisible now. The transformation is complete; Chapin has transported you back in time.
In this day, if you can get children and teens to put their electronics down even for a moment, you’ve performed a mighty miracle. Somehow, Chapin gets it done the first Monday of September year after year. It’s just too nice an event to keep your head glued to a tiny screen.
As the afternoon begins to morph into evening, crowds begin to dissipate. Booths start coming down and Town of Chapin employees work side-by-side with volunteers on cleanup duty. Yes, there are volunteers working in an era of, “What’s in it for me.” This is final proof that Chapin pulled it off again; they took the entire town back in time if just for a day.
If you could measure the day against a scale of how much time teens spend away from screens, Chapin would knock the needle off the gauge. Labor Day in Chapin really does that.
Thanks, Chapin, for another great year. You’ve given us a glimpse of Americana that’s almost gone but does exist in the hearts of some. Somehow, some way, Chapin gets people to drag that special feeling out every September and display it for others to see. Thanks for making this happen.