Several things observed on Labor Day


Some general observations while bidding an unofficial farewell to summer…

For many, Labor Day offers a final chance for camping and cookouts as the school year and fall sports kick into high gear. It’s the last weekend before NFL games start to count, and the height of the US Open Tennis Tournament. And for many of us, this holiday celebrating the American worker is a much-anticipated day three-day weekend, of which we spent at least some time generally enjoying sports and recreation.

Gridiron greatness

This weekend’s gridiron games felt like October football, with fans pulling out sweatshirts, boots and rain gear for season openers in Happy Valley and Pittsburgh. But Friday night was a picture-perfect evening for high school football.

I was reminded that these community contests are so much more than a sporting event. Friends from multiple generations catch up in the stands, children play in the end zones, and fundraisers bring in important dollars for team boosters, bands and charitable organizations. Young people learn valuable lessons in teamwork and commitment; including those running plays, cheering on players, or playing instruments.

It seems like the smaller the community, the bigger the spectacle, made even more special by the relatively small number of games on the schedule. It’s hard to believe the regular season is already one-fifth over.

U.S. Open

The US Open tournament continues with some of the biggest news of the week coming off the court. Tennis great Serena Williams and her fiance announced the birth of their baby girl last Friday, leading to the realization that she was pregnant when she won her last Grand Slam title in January — amazing.

Williams reportedly plans to return to competition next year; meanwhile, sister Venus has advanced to the quarterfinals of the final Grand Slam of the season.

On the men’s side, a highlight of the tournament would be a semifinal showdown between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The two superstars have met 37 times, including nine grand slam finals. But they’ve never done battle at Flushing Meadow. Hopefully, this is the year.

Family fishing

Labor Day has become the weekend for an annual Kids’ Fishing Derby at Shawnee State Park, sponsored by the Friends of Shawnee. While Memorial Day is earmarked for carp, this weekend the fish of choice was catfish.

Despite challenging weather conditions, the Oster family from Hyndman came home with the top two trophies.

Twelve-year old Hayden Oster took first place with a 10-inch catch; his little sister, Cyndi, age 5 earned the second-place award. Hayden has won multiple honors over the years of the derby, which is designed to encourage families to fish together and enjoy the outdoors.

And even as summer unofficially ends, State Parks do not close for the season — they’re open year round.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.