ROBBINSDALE, Minn. (KMSP) - It’s been their Labor Day tradition for decades, but now a local family is bringing their “end of summer” party to an end after the passing of a loved one.
Fox 9 first introduced you to Paul and Winnie Hile three years ago when they were celebrating 50 years of fun, food and friends on Labor Day. But this year will be the end of an era as the Robbinsdale family throws one last bash.
Every Labor Day for the past 53 years, there’s been a party at the home on Chowen Avenue to celebrate the end of summer. But after more than half a century, the holiday tradition is coming to an end.
"We've roasted pigs in the ground on a spit,” Paul Hile said. "It’s wonderful, all these people who showed up. It's grand is all I can say."
Paul and Winnie Hile started inviting friends and neighbors over in 1965, and the guest list grew every year, averaging 160 people.
And every year was a different theme with a handcrafted invitation from White Castle to your favorite food truck.
"One year, we did live lobster; we had lobster shipped in," Paul Hile said.
But after Winnie died suddenly from a tear in her aorta in December, the Hiles decided to have one last hurrah to honor her.
"It’s been a wonderful tradition, but as my parents have aged, it’s a lot of work to get ready for. With my mom's passing, it seemed a fitting way to say goodbye and put some closure on the party," said their daughter Jen McAtamney.
This year's theme is all things Winnie, with guests bringing food made with two of her favorite things: gin and butter. Some even flew in from as far away as Arizona.
“It’s going to be missed by a lot of people, but life is about change. We have to move on," said family friend Brad Nuorala.
This Labor Day tradition may be ending, but the 53 years of memories will live on.
"I think this is a nice way to know there was one more party and we did mom proud," Jen said.
Another of Winnie's annual traditions will live on.