What's a festival without a Ferris wheel ride? It gives the best view and captures that feeling of once-a-year celebration, like this one at the Bartlett Festival. Photo by Amanda Swain.

Labor of love: Counting down the best things about the last official day of summer

The Ferris wheel is a perennial favorite for guests at the Bartlett Festival. Archive photo by Amanda Swain.

As of Monday, summer will be over.

Several area children will argue that the summer ended throughout August as school started back. We adults know summer begins with our first three-day weekend in May and concludes with the last one in early September – Labor Day.

Labor Day is a U.S. American public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. The government first recognized the day around 1885 in New York. Then by the late 1890s more than 20 states celebrated the holiday that pays tribute to all the hard workers in America.

Now the whole country recognizes one of my favorite holidays. The trio of summer holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day) are awesome because of the meanings. American history is revisited each year. We pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom, and all of us who have labored in some form or fashion can take a day to just relax.

As we brace for all the commercial holidays coming, like Halloween, Black Friday Eve, Valentine’s Day and Commercial Giving Day, lets take a top 10 look inside the best things about Labor Day.

10. Wearing white

The movie “Serial Mom” starring Kathleen Turner taught me to never wear white after Labor Day. Huge fashion don’t. But wearing white and lighter colors just makes sense during the summer. So Labor Day presents the last chance to wear that cool summer outfit, new swimsuit or short set.

The reason white is banned after Labor Day is not certain. One of the best guesses online is that it displays a snobby attitude from about 100 years ago. Today wearing white after Labor Day means you’re allowing more fall and winter air to access your body.

9. Last non-Christmas TV marathon

When you work a regular schedule, you don’t get to catch much television. Now with streaming and Youtube.com, you can binge watch anything anytime.don’t There is still something special about a network dedicating several hours to one show for your enjoyment. Usually these marathons are a part of the backdrop as the family gathers. But if the right show is being showcased for several runs, an older person in the house might have a chance to share a part of their childhood with a young family member. Or a youngster can teach an out-of-touch loved one about the new show that won’t go off the air.

If you don’t like marathons, you can always try to catch up on TV you miss daily. Hey, do you guys remember the MDA Labor Day Telethon, aka, the Jerry Lewis Marathon? That came to an end in 2014.

8. Last summer vacation chance

Now I don’t like to travel. But I understand this day is a final chance to travel anywhere in the United States and still feel like it is summer. If you leave on a Thursday, you can get a full three days out of the trip and enjoy the final “summer” vacation of that year. And usually amusement parks and places with a shoreline have great deals for those who dare travel during the school year.

7. Historic reason

The first celebrated U.S. Labor Day was on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. About 12 years later it moved to the day we’ve grown to know and love.

Several factors have gone into building the United States. One vital part of that development was the labor of those on railroads, factories, farms, mining, fishing and much more.

A lot of labor today takes place in air-conditioned offices, at a desk with technological tools. But Labor Day should remind of us of those who preceded us and those who work on bridges and buildings, pave roads, pick up our trash and do all the dirty work.

6. Official end of summer

I like the summer. I appreciate the longer days, giving me more time to do outdoor stuff. But it does get super hot in the Memphis area. So autumn is a gentle caressing feeling to my skin. The beautiful colors from the trees are about to take over the scenery. Bugs will start dying and snakes will hide once again.

And if it gets too cold, I will stay inside or just put on a few more layers. By the time Labor Day rolls around, we need a break from the heat.

5. Area festivals

If you choose 901 around Labor Day, you can attend events like International Goat Days, Cooper Young Festival, Delta Fair, Mid-South Fair, Celebrate Munford, Germantown Festival, Rock for Love Crosstown Block Party, Art on Tap at the Dixon, Memphis Comic Expo, 901 Day, Bartlett Festival and most importantly Big Scoop Ice Cream Festival. Throughout September, organizers take full advantage of the calmer weather, cool temperatures and the balance of daylight to host festivals. Labor Day is the kickoff this wonderful season and automatic date nights.

4. Last cookout

Labor Day is the last official chance to pull out the grill and charcoals for a cookout. One more final time to make a trip to a relative’s house to hang out. Last shot at a family reunion weekend.

So pull out your best recipes, the potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and cool desserts.

Most people elect to go light on this day because they are worn down from Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. But there are a few troopers who go big for the last hoorah of summer. I love those grill masters who respect the flames, biscuits and hickory. They know any time you strike up a grill in the Memphis area, you go big or go home.

3. Day off

It’s a Monday off.

2. Born on Labor Day

Back on the seventh day of September in nineteen hundred and eighty-one, Thomas Wayne Sellers Jr. was born. The seventh of September is the last possible date the holiday can fall on. When mom Alma woke up that day almost 37 years ago, the only labor on her mind was Labor Day and getting some barbecue.

But I introduced another labor to her. About 7 a.m., a pain hit my mom that made her summon God and medical help.

She was admitted into the hospital in Downtown Memphis. But before they could get her into a room, my Dad was holding me around 9:55 a.m. I was trying to get out for the barbecue in time. But instead I got formula.

God knew I would hate Mondays so much that when my birthday falls on that miserable day, I get the day off and it’s a national holiday.

1. Football returns

High school football is about three weeks old at this point. The NFL game is a few days away. But Labor Day weekend means it’s time to kickoff the college pigskin. From Saturday to that Monday night, a football junkie will overdose in breakdowns, first downs and touchdowns. I’m down with that.

The ironic thing is that the last outdoor holiday is sacrificed by several football fans by going indoors to watch the gridiron action. Then we’ll have until the first Sunday in February to stay glued to our couch watching football. By that time we’re dreaming of a warm day so we could possibly fire up the grill or just have a quick getaway, i.e., Labor Day.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to thomas.sellers@journalinc.com.