Labor Day in San Rafael was once celebrated as part of the annual Grand Carnival.
“Carnival A Success: Labor Has an Excellent Parade on the Opening Day” was the headline in the Marin Journal on September 10, 1908:
“The Carnival which started Sunday, formally opened Monday in a blaze of waving flags and fluttering bunting. San Rafael was decorated as never before. Up Fourth street to E and from Second street up B to the Park, flags and carnival colors, blue and gold, were stretched across the streets every sixty feet, and at the same distance apart were stretched rows of electric lights which gave a pleasing effect after nightfall.”
Labor Unions and the working class were the centerpiece of the parade and their contributions and trades were celebrated with floats, exhibits, marching bands and speakers.
Participants in the 1908 parade included the Carpenters Unions, Painters Union, Teamsters Union, Cement Workers Union, Plumbers Union, Butcher’s Union, Horseshoers Union and many others.
“The Horseshoers Union had a wagon fitted out as a smithy, in which there was a horse waiting to be shod and several men at work hammering out shoes at the forge. The horseshoers union were horseback, each man having a large silver horseshoe on his shirt front.”
“The San Rafael Brewery Wagon ended the procession which was fully a half a mile long, and one of the finest seen in San Rafael in many years. Almost the entire population of the town was out, the entire line of march being crowded with spectators.”
“At 1:40 the Queen left her place on Fourth street near B in a coach drawn by four black horses, each having a large white rosette in its bridle. By her side were her two little pages, and surrounding her coach were six liveried footmen with glistering spears to guard her from all danger. Following were carriages containing the Maids of Honor…. And city officials.”
The Queen and her entourage ended up at the Court House which had been transformed into a “Royal Palace” where the Queen was crowned and seated on a throne. “Manager Nocerino, of the Lyric Theatre then handed the Queen a copy of the Carnival March” which was played by the band.
The Journal concludes: “Taken all in all, Labor Day was the greatest ever seen in San Rafael. The long Line of mechanics and laboring men in procession astonished many people who had no idea there were so many in San Rafael, or that the Unions were so strong here. It has been demonstrated that San Rafael is as strongly Union as any town of its size in the State.”