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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Randy Gardiner blows up balloons at the Local 1393 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers tent during the annual Labor Day picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday.

  • Guests at Monday’s picnic concentrate on their bingo cards as letters and numbers are called out.

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette ABOVE: Scott Rospond carries his grandson, Rowan Jones, 4, on his shoulders during Monday’s annual Labor Day picnic at Headwaters Park. See story on Page 1C.

  • RIGHT: Heather Moore and her son Tony Moore, 13, play bingo at Monday’s picnic. The event featured free chili, hot dogs and drinks, as well as Burmese and Mexican food. It is paid for through donations from local unions and worker-friendly businesses.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Guests enjoy food and bingo during the Labor Day Picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday. VIDEO / GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Guests line up to get balloons from the Local 1393 tent during the annual Labor Day Picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday. VIDEO / GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Roxanna Murray from the UAW Local 2209 GM calls out bingo numbers during the annual Labor Day Picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday. VIDEO / GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tony Moore, 13, enjoys food and bingo during the annual Labor Day Picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday. VIDEO / GALLERY

Tuesday, September 05, 2017 1:00 am

Families enjoy labor picnic

Free food, activities draw thousands to Headwaters Park

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Roxanna Murray’s amplified voice rose above the din of a packed Headwaters Park pavilion Monday, calling out numbers that would eventually lead to a bingo.

“Am I hearing a bingo?” she said during the $60 jackpot round. “Hold your boards until we verify.”

The game was among activities offered at the annual Labor Day picnic, which featured free food and beverages to the public.

It was sponsored by various unions.

Murray, of United Auto Workers Local 2209, assumed her role as bingo caller on a platform in the center aisle, with several players standing nearby. Murray, who in previous years was on hot dog duty, said she looks forward to the picnic because it’s an opportunity for the labor community to get together. In the past five years, attendance estimates have ranged from more than 5,000 to 7,000.

Many attendees Monday, including Jenny Bgoom, viewed the four-hour event as a way to spend time with family. The Fort Wayne woman brought three of her five children, she said as they finished getting their faces painted by Jefferson Middle School cheerleaders.

Attending the picnic is tradition for Alfonso Guzman, who shared the afternoon with his five grandchildren, ages 9 months to 8 years.

Katia Ewing, of Communications Workers of America Local 4900, welcomed them to her bubble wand booth, asking one of the girls which type of pipe cleaner she wanted as her wand.

“Do you want sparkly or soft and fuzzy?” she asked.

Ewing, who helped plan the children’s activities, said organizers wanted to provide a safe zone away from the bustle of the pavilion. They considered having games but dismissed the idea because of the amount of prizes and manpower they would need, she said.

As the picnic approached closing time, Ewing personally declared the activities, which also included temporary tattoos and sidewalk chalk, a success.

Jasmine McDonald’s sons, ages 2 and 1, were among the last children who got their faces painted. While his brother had a basketball drawn on his cheek, the youngest left Headwaters Park West with a goatee and mustache.

By then, the picnic-goers had long stopped listening for bingo numbers. After at least one false alarm, Murray said four words many likely hoped would be about them: “We have a winner.” 

asloboda@jg.net