Bloomington’s first Labor Day parade was held on September 7, 1891, three years before the day became a national holiday. This parade float, dating to sometime around 1920, is the handiwork of the International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Helpers Local 79. This local represented blacksmiths at the Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops on the city’s west side.
Today, union members and their supporters wear matching t-shirts. Back then union groups distinguished themselves with spit-and-polish attire such as button-down shirts, matching pants, and accessories ranging from capes to walking canes.