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Residents Work Hard at Having Labor Day Fun : Holiday: People throughout Ventura County celebrate at annual gatherings. About 3,000 attend the Labor of Love picnic in Moorpark.


Sean Hanley, 8, stuffed his big winnings into the pockets of his Boy Scout uniform.

The youngster and members of his troop spent the afternoon amassing the loot by tossing rings onto cones and pitching balls into baskets at Moorpark's Labor of Love picnic, the city's annual Labor Day gathering.

"Winning stuff is the best part," said Sean, jamming seven packs of animal crackers, a green pencil and two key chains into his front pockets.

"It's neat."

Under a brilliant blue sky, Ventura County residents from Simi Valley to Ventura spent the sunny afternoon celebrating the holiday with friends and family.

In the sweltering heat, about 3,000 people met at Peach Hill Park in Moorpark to play games, listen to music and eat barbecue.

Howard McClure and his family watched a group of Moorpark High School students perform Broadway show tunes.

"It's just a day of recreation," McClure said. "Some people spend it at the mountains, others at the beach. We came here."

For six years, the city of Moorpark and the Moorpark Youth Activities Committee have been holding the picnic for area families.

"This is the last big event before the kids go back to school," said Vicky McGowan, who helped organize the gathering. "It's Moorpark's gift to Moorpark."

McGowan said she encouraged an international theme for the picnic. A Simi Valley girl performed a classical dance from India while a group of youngsters wearing grass skirts practiced their steps to a Polynesian tune.

"We've always been real interested in promoting cultural awareness," McGowan said. "We have a little of everything here."

Randy Lauder, who lives across the street from Peach Hill Park, said the picnic seemed like an ideal way to spend the day.

"We didn't want to fight traffic to go to a three-day weekend somewhere," Lauder said. "This was perfect. It's real local for us."

In Oxnard, about 500 members of labor unions and Democrats United of Ventura County gathered at College Park.

"This is our big event of the year," said Beverly O'Gorman, co-chairwoman of the picnic. "It is a time for us to applaud our past accomplishments and make plans for the future."

Among those attending the gathering were Sen. Gary Hart (D-Santa Barbara), the local leaders of the Public Employee's Assn. of Ventura County and members of the Oxnard Firefighters' union, who sold T-shirts and showed off a classic firetruck.

Hart told the group: "It is good to see the Democratic Party and the union members together working for working people. Labor Day is the traditional kickoff for the campaign season . . . Labor Day is the time when we get to hold people accountable."

He urged the group to get out the vote for area Democrats in the November election.

"There is strength in numbers," Hart said.

Ventura County Supervisor Susan K. Lacey served as the host of the event.

"Labor represents the middle class," Lacey said. "It keeps democracy strong."

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