As the country celebrated its laborers by giving them a day off, people around the city celebrated with cookouts, music and fellowship.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin joined many of them Monday at Hyatt Park off north Main Street for an afternoon of free food, Gospel music and school supply giveaways.
For the 17th year, the Hyatt Park neighborhood celebrated Labor Day and the start of the school year with an event organized by Loretta Coleman Ministries.
“I like giving back to the community,” Loretta Coleman said. “We have families come out and bond with their children. We have children from all walks of life. I like to see fathers with their daughters and with their sons, and I like to see families as a whole.”
She estimated roughly 1,000 people came to the event, which included free food and door prizes, five local bands and a voter registration station. Benjamin and City Councilman Sam Davis, who represents the Hyatt Park neighborhood in council District 1, were on hand to distribute school supplies to children and promote their re-election campaigns.
“You making straight A’s this year? Promise?” Benjamin asked one young girl as he handed her a bag of school supplies he donated to the event, which included a notebook stamped with his mayoral campaign sticker.
“Underscoring everything that I’ve done as mayor of this city is a firm belief in our children and recognizing that they have incredible promise,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin is running against City Councilman Moe Baddourah and businessman Larry Sypolt in the race for the mayor’s office. He said the event was a “great way to connect with voters to show them the importance of investing in our children, investing in our community.”
“We live in at times a hyper-political world where social media’s so prevalent,” Benjamin said. “But very little substitutes for actually meeting a candidate, face-to-face contact with constituents, and having a chance to really tell them who you are, what you believe.”