The Labor Day holiday is a contradiction in resort areas.
Historically, the Monday holiday honors the labor and achievements of working Americans with some well-earned time off, but holidays are the busiest times in mountain towns.
Few of the people that create the high-altitude experience will be idle over what will be a three-day holiday for others. They will greet guests, make beds, cook, serve, guide, clean, deliver, stock and ringing up groceries and merchandise. Firefighters, police and medical personnel will be on duty.
COVID-19 has made their work harder and hazardous because of the risk of infection from working with the public daily.
Pre-COVID-19, Ketchum would have been sweating the details of the Wagon Days Parade. Entertainers would have been checking sound systems. Sun Valley skaters would have been slipping into sequined costumes for the last show of the summer. Bellevue would have been prepping its hometown parade and picnic.
The Labor Day experience in the Wood River Valley this year will be subdued in comparison, but it would be utterly lackluster without the hardworking people who will ensure the holiday isn’t a flop.
Local workers know that supporting the good times of others is the valley’s business. They know that without it the valley’s towns would be still be wide spots in the road instead of the vibrant cultural intersections that they are today.
Long-time locals remember the days when a TV set atop an abandoned bandstand in a local bar was the source of sports and the arts. They remember when a single event each month in the summer was a big deal.
The many options for fun and relaxation that still exist even in the midst of the pandemic (masks and social distancing, please) would not be possible without the efforts of local workers who make it so.
Few people get rich working in mountain resort towns, but that’s not why people do it. A special connection with one of Idaho’s most beautiful places keeps them here. They are genuinely happy to share it and show it off.
Labor Day is the perfect time to give local workers a heartfelt thank-you to show them the appreciation they deserve.