You might think of Labor Day as the end of summer fun and start of the school or work year. However, the holiday began as a day off in September to honor industrial and union workers. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the Central Labor Union first celebrated Labor Day on Sept. 5, 1882. The holiday changed in 1884 to the first Monday of September. Today, the entire weekend is a holiday filled with community celebrations, parades, carnivals, music festivals and food. In metropolitan Chicago, Naperville, Schaumburg and Zion do it all. In Chicago, the Jazz Festival, and more recently, the North Coast Music Festival, have become traditional musical goodbyes to summer.

(Credit: Naperville Last Fling's facebook)

(Credit: Naperville Last Fling’s facebook)

Naperville Last Fling
Rotary Hill at Naperville Central High School
440 W. Aurora Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 961-4143

Dates: Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, 2013

Last Fling brings headliners Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Soul to Naperville for this western suburb’s Labor Day 2013 ticketed concerts. But the event, sponsored by Naperville Jaycees, also has a carnival, free concerts on its Entertainment Stage, a free Family Fun Land of pony rides and close reptile encounters and a Labor Day parade. The parade is September 2 at 10 a.m. from Mill Street near Naperville North High School and ends on Porter Avenue by Central High School.

Septemberfest 2013
Atcher Municipal Center
101 Schaumburg Court
Schaumburg, IL 60193
(847) 895-4500

Dates: Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, 2013

Schaumburg’s Septemberfest of food, music, arts/crafts, carnival, fireworks and parade draws crowds from its west suburban neighbors. Approximately 250 exhibitors participate in the Arts & Crafts Show. Fireworks light the sky September 1 at 10 p.m. The parade, September 2 at 10 a.m., features color guards, scout troops, politicians, local floats, bands and in 2013, a tribute to the Schaumburg Recreation Department’s 50th anniversary. The parade travels two miles from Summit Drive, north to Wise Road, then to Stock Port Lane. The festival is free but carnival rides require tickets.

Jubilee Days
Zion Park District Bandshell and Shiloh Park
25th St. and Emmaus Ave.
Zion, IL 60099
(847) 746-5500

Dates: Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, 2013

Jubilee Days is an old-fashioned celebration that starts Saturday with Miss Zion pageants in different age categories followed by an ice cream social. The festival continues Sunday with food and craft booths followed by a twilight concert, then fireworks. Food and crafts are out again on Monday but the highlight is a parade of more than 90 entries. Expect to see politicians, bands, Shriners, Jesse White Tumblers and organization floats and marchers. The parade does a long rectangle on the east side of Shiloh Park and ends on the park’s south side at Gabriel Avenue. Founded in 1901, north-suburban Zion is honoring its historic beginnings with the theme: “Blast from the Past.” The town was the site of John Alexander Dowie’s Zion Tabernacle of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church.

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(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

Chicago Jazz Festival
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6630

Dates: Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, 2013

In downtown Chicago, Labor Day Weekend is all about jazz — hot, cool, tribal and experimental. Those sounds are emanating from Millennium Park where the 35th Chicago Jazz Festival takes the stage in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Jazz and Heritage Pavilion (north end) and the Von Freeman Pavilion (former Jackson Stage, south end), Friday through Sunday. Early concert goers should check out Thursday’s programs at the Chicago Cultural Center across from Millennium Park. Roosevelt University will also host a Thursday concert. Click here for the August 30 line-up, times and locations and access to other days’ schedules. The festival is free but expect bags, backpacks and purses to be inspected for drugs and weapons.

North Coast Music Festival
Union Park
1501 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Dates: Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, 2013

Union Park, the recent Pitchfork venue, has become a popular music fest alternative to Millennium and Grant Park. Although North Coast Music Festival is a newbie that started in 2009, its three-day passes sell out six months ahead of the event. Single tickets are still available. Among the 2013 headliners slated so far is the Wu-Tang Clan. Tickets and federally issued ID to prove drinking age are required for entry.

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Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on