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This article was prepared for the June 20, 2001 edition of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
4th of July’s Scheduling Hang-Up
Ah, July 4. Independence Day. The very name of the
calls up the spirit of summer’s long, languid days, stripped of hurry,
and marked by hammocks, cool drinks, and trips to the beach or the
This year Princeton area office workers may enjoy the hammocks and
cool drinks, but the traditional long weekend trip to surf and hiking
trail will not happen for many. A 4th of July that falls on a Monday
or a Friday guarantees a long week-end, and one that lands on a
or a Tuesday often inspires employers to throw in an extra day to
create a luxurious four-day summer break. But this year, the holiday
that celebrates the Colonies’ resolve to shake off British tyranny
falls on a Wednesday. Dead in the middle of the week it is, land
really. And land locked is what many corporate denizens will be with
just one day off.
At Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has a reputation for generous holiday
schedules, spokesperson Tracy Munford had to double-check to
see that the 4th would be a one-day affair this year. "I thought
we had Monday and Tuesday," she says, "but we get only the
day." Munford looks on the bright side. "We do have
hours on Fridays in the summer," she says. "Employees get
off at noon if they put in extra hours during the week."
Putting a good face on the abbreviated holiday, Eric Stenson,
a communications writer with New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, says
"we literally get just the Wednesday. I try to think of it as
a mid-week break."
"Just the Wednesday" appears to be the norm up and down the
Route 1 corridor at pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, and even
at creative firms, whose New York City counterparts are famous for
liberal summer breaks.
There is at least one vote for creating a permanent long week-end
spot for the 4th, although doing so might call for a name change.
"We should move the holiday," declares Cicely Laidman,
above, director of communications at the Hillier Group. Letting the
important, start-of-summer holiday fall smack in the middle of the
week is bad for business as well as for workers’ revels, she contends.
"For a lot of businesses, it can be disruptive," she says.
Laidman has a special affection for the holiday. Five years ago she
started a 4th of July parade in her development in New Hope. Now,
no matter when the holiday falls, she directs the festivities dressed
as — what else? — the Statue of Liberty. Her neighbors have
gotten into the spirit, donning Uncle Sam’s top hat or Betsy Ross’s
shawl. "Kids dress up their bikes," she says, "and the
town sends over fire engines."
While Laidman is nurturing an All-American holiday across the river
in New Hope, she guesses some of her co-workers will be giving the
mid-week holiday the skip altogether. Hillier employees got an extra
day off for the Memorial Day holiday, and will get an extra day off
at the other end of the season to celebrate Labor Day. The memory
of the first, coupled with the anticipation of the second, is the
motivation many in the firm will use over July 4th, she says.
"If drive by our offices on the 4th," says Laidman, "I’ll
bet you’ll see a bunch of cars in the parking lot."
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