Waves of candy, politics pepper crowd at Labor Day parade in Janesville
JANESVILLE At Monday's Labor Day parade through downtown Janesville, people cheered and applauded for Janesville native and 1st District Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.
People also cheered for the New Glarus Fire Department's performing ladder team, the Shriners' miniature airplane drill squad and the Parker and Craig high school marching bands.
When a small group of labor supporters went by holding "Recall Scott Walker" signs, however, the cheers turned to whoops, and the applause got louder.
That was in the first block of South Main Street, and crowd response might have been different elsewhere on the mile-long parade route.
The parade has always attracted representatives from unions with local branches, but this year, they made their presence felt.
Near the beginning of the two-hour parade, a float featured unemployed workers holding signs that said, "Wanted, good jobs," "Union Yes!" and "Support Education."
Near the end of the parade, teachers from Beloit, Edgerton and a variety of other local districts walked together, chanting slogans.
The political signs, too, went beyond the usual support for one candidate or another.
One sign said, "Welcome to Wis-Koch-son," a reference to billionaires Charles and David Koch, who are financial supporters of Gov. Scott Walker.
The Republican Party also had a float in the parade, and many of its representatives carried signs urging support of Walker's agenda.
Politics didn't matter for many of those at the parade who won't be able to vote for a decade or more. What did matter was candy or silly men in little cars or miniature rolling airplanes. Clowns in golf carts, on two-wheeled scooters and in other odd vehicles were also high on their lists.
After that, popular entries included construction equipment, fire trucks and marching bands.
After awhile, even all that began to pale.
About 90 minutes into the parade, 3-year-old Ella Larson of Janesville said thoughtfully, "I think we have enough candy."
Ella said her favorite part of the parade was the Shriners driving their miniature airplanes. But really, it was time to go home.
All the noise was bothering Ella's 2-year-old brother, Dylan, who kept putting his hands over his ears. Her other brother, 1-year-old Henry, was on the verge of sleep. Every now and then, he would open his eyes for something special, such as a fire truck, but even that couldn't hold his attention for long.
As for politics, the Larson children probably would vote for anyone strongly in favor of stickers, candy and funny guys with little cars.