My Town Monday: The Holiday at Home Parade and Festival

Ever since I can remember, Labor Day has always included the Holiday at Home parade and festival. I grew up in Kettering, the south Dayton suburb where it’s hosted, and remember setting out lawn chairs to watch the parade a few times when I was little. Other times, especially when it was really hot or rainy, we watched it on TV.

Dayton History had a nice showing in this year's parade

So I knew the event had  been around since at least the early 70’s. Curious, I looked up the official website to find out when it all really began. Initially called Kettering Day, the first event was held in 1959 and hosted by the Kettering YMCA for a membership drive. Community leaders got involved and encouraged the Y to add a parade and program of events, and it was so well-attended it was a foregone conclusion it would become an annual event. Eventually, a contest was held to find a new name, and community leadership chose Holiday at Home because it encourages residents to stay home and have fun around here, rather than travel. Although it’s centered in Kettering, all are welcome, and many other south-side communities are involved.

The Millennium Falcon was the coolest float in this year's Holiday at Home Parade

Public events begin the day before Labor Day, when the festival begins. It includes an arts and crafts show with vendors all around, food, and live entertainment.

The parade is the capstone event, and begins around 10 AM on Labor Day. The Holiday at Home parade is the largest in the Miami Valley. Area residents stake out parade-watching spots as early as the day before by setting out lawn chairs (which amazingly, as far as I know, don’t get stolen). The parade attracts an audience of over 10,000 people, and that’s not counting those who watch on TV. School and community marching bands, veterans’ organizations, civic groups, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses participate, with floats, performances, or vehicles in the parade. My husband’s AMVETS chapter’s riders’ group rides their motorcycles in the parade.

What's Star Wars without the Cantina? Jabba the Hut's in residence, enjoying a live jazz band from Fairmont H.S.

After the parade, which ends around noon, the festival goes on, with more food, arts and crafts, and entertainment. There’s also a fantastic classic car show, which is by invitation only and includes some sweet rides you don’t always see at the cruise-ins throughout the summer.

All in all, it’s a good time, and sure beats driving through Labor Day traffic.

If you live in the Dayton area, do you go to the Holiday at Home festival? Or watch the parade on TV? If you’re from elsewhere, what do you do on Labor Day weekend – does your community give you a reason to stay home?


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