By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Anderson residents didn't have to go far this year for a Labor Day Bash. Anderson Parks and Recreation held the inaugural Labor Day Bash at Shadyside Park on Monday.
It was a daylong event with food and music from local musicians Toy Factory, DJ K9 and Living Proof.
"We wanted to give people something to do and bring the community together," Parks Superintendent Stephon Blackwell said, adding that he's heard many say there's nothing to do in Anderson.
It's a perception the city's trying to change. The Park Board, Blackwell said, checked out other cities, like Charlotte, N.C., to see what they do for Labor Day before deciding to go with a concert for all ages.
Back when the General Motors factories were still here, Blackwell said the company held carnivals and events at Killbuck Park for families to enjoy.
"We're not that factory town anymore, but we're still attracting new businesses," he said. "There's no reason not to celebrate."
Blackwell said officials wanted to show residents they don't have to travel to Indianapolis and elsewhere to enjoy fun events. And for those who couldn't travel because of budgetary reasons, he added that the Labor Day Bash was free.
Next year, officials plan to make it a part of the summer concert series.
"This year is the first," Blackwell said. "We'll go every year."
While there were about 300 concertgoers listening around 4 p.m., Blackwell expected to see the number in the thousands by the end of the night, at 10 p.m., after seeing about 8,000 out for the Shadyside Celebration for the Fourth of July.
Jerry and Josephine Wright brought their grandchildren out after going to the unions' Labor Day Picnic and Cruise-In at Beulah Park in Alexandria. They said they saw the celebration and decided to stop by to check it out.
"It's real nice," Josephine said, later adding she enjoyed her elephant ear from one of the vendors, including Fab Lab ice cream.
Jerry enjoyed the music and said "the songs they sing sound just like the record."
The kids, ranging from age 8 to 14, were having more fun on the playground, he added.
Amaya Collins, 7, did homework before coming out to the event — not so much fun — but did say she enjoyed her weekend at Kings Island where the roller coasters were her favorite ride.
She liked the music at the Labor Day Bash. Her grandma, Everlene Snorton, did too.
Snorton just recently moved back to Anderson after more than 15 years and said there's been a lot of change. Unfortunately, not for the better, she said, as neighborhoods aren't as nice and there are less jobs.
But, she was glad to see Anderson "do something to bring the people together."
And, she added, the city is beginning to bring jobs back, "but needs a lot more."
"I was really surprised," she said of the Labor Day Bash. "I'm not sure what I imagined, but I'm well pleased."
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