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Painted Labor Day pail is perfect for utensils

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Everyone loves to celebrate Labor Day, but few people understand the significance of the federal holiday.

In the United States, Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September each year. This year, Labor Day will be celebrated on Sept. 6.

Most people see it as a day off school and work — and the last time to enjoy outdoor activities before fall brings everyone indoors for celebrations.

Labor Day is traditionally the time when political candidates kick off their campaigns before the November election. Parades and picnics held on the holiday give candidates the perfect opportunity to meet lots of voters.

But the real reason we celebrate Labor Day is to commemorate the first Labor Day held in 1882 in New York City that honored the economic and social achievements of workers. It has its roots in the laws protecting people from having to work 12-hour days and longer.

In the United States, Labor Day became a national holiday after the 1894 Pullman strike, a nationwide conflict between labor unions and railroads that eventually involved 250,000 workers in 27 states.

In the conflict that brought transportation west of Chicago to a halt, a number of workers were killed when the military and U.S. marshals were called in to quell the strike at the Pullman Palace Car Co. in Pullman, Ill.

At the urging of President Grover Cleveland, Congress unanimously signed the legislation to reconcile with the labor unions six days after the end of the strike.

For your last blast of summer, I made a watermelon tin to hold items for your Labor Day picnic with instructions I found at on the Web. Though I was unable to find a papier-mache picnic basket that the directions call for, I found a tin pail a great substitute. Also, these instructions are less complicated.

Supplies you will need:
» Metal pail with handle
» Red, green and black acrylic urethane water-based paint for outdoor use (available at craft stores)
» Sponge brushes and flat paintbrushes
» Newspapers
» Clear acrylic sealant

Cover your work surface with newspapers. Use a sponge brush to paint the outside of the pail with red paint, leaving the top rim unpainted. Let dry.

Use a sponge brush to paint the lid and a flat brush to paint the top rim of the pail green.

Paint small black "seeds" in a random pattern on the outside of the pail with a small flat brush.

As an option, you can spray a clear sealant on the can to resist scratches.

Fill with plastic tableware and other necessities and store with the lid on until your next picnic.

Contact Kathy Antoniotti, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640 or via e-mail at


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