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No Silly String, Super Soakers in July 4th Parade

By Leon Worden
Wednesday, May 28, 1997

D
ear Kimberly Anderson:

Thank you for your letter of May 2nd. I would have replied personally, but you gave no return address or phone number. So here's your letter again, this time in front of the whole world:

"I am sure the planning of this year's Fourth of July parade is under way already, but since last year's parade I have been meaning to write you and beg you not to let the vendors sell Silly String again this year. Silly String really can be a lot of fun, but I watched so many kids abuse it.

"The people who march in the parade take a lot of pride in their cars, their organizations and themselves. Silly String was used all over the Model "T" cars, fire trucks, horses and in the faces of 7-year-old Cub Scouts who wanted to cry in humiliation.

"After the string was discharged I watched kids AND adults run and gather it up, wad it into a ball and throw it at the marchers. I saw a fire fighter get beaned on the temple while driving a truck.

"It stopped being a fun day for me at that moment.

"My family really looks forward to the parade each year. I hope you will consider my request so it will be a fun day for all. Thank you."

Thank YOU! You've given me the perfect excuse to remind everyone what has been done to avoid another Silly String fiasco this year.

You'll be pleased to know, Kimberly, that your request and those of countless others have not fallen on deaf ears. Silly String got out of hand more last year than ever before -- enough so that shortly after last year's parade, the parade committee, the Sheriffs and the City decided to do something about it.

Last September the City Council unanimously passed a "special events" ordinance prohibiting the use of Silly String and other paraphernalia during the parade. The ordinance was modeled after the one Pasadena uses for the Tournament of Roses parade, which seems to work quite well. In fact, some of our local Sheriff's deputies have worked the Pasadena parade for several years, so they're already experienced in enforcing it.

Santa Clarita's new ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to disrupt any "event, exposition, fair, parade or procession in which city services are required." Specifically, it says no one may "discard, launch, propel, release, squirt or throw any gaseous, liquid, semi-solid substance or object toward or among the participants, vehicles or animals in the special event."

As you can see, the ordinance covers not only Silly String, but things like Super Soakers, too. Somebody squirted water inside a brand-new Sheriff's patrol car last year and destroyed thousands of dollars' worth of electrical systems.

Violating the ordinance carries a maximum $1,000 fine or six months in jail, and minors may be cited and released on the spot. As you correctly note, Kimberly, it wasn't just kids who ran amok with Silly String. It was adults, too. Now, any adult who doesn't know better can get his butt hauled off to the local lockup.

One final comment: Unfortunately, the vendors aren't under the control of the parade committee. In a word, they aren't ours. Nobody seems to know where they come from. The parade committee can't kick them out or tell them what to sell. The city has no means of regulating them except to check for a valid State of California business license and, if they sell food, a county health permit. (Besides, the vendors weren't the only source of Silly String last year. The worst offenders brought cases of the stuff from home.)

So the upshot is, even if people buy it, they can't use it. I hope this satisfies your request. With a little help from the Sheriffs, we'll have another great parade this year.

For parade entry forms or questions, e-mail the parade committee now or visit the Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade on the Internet.

    Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident.

    ©1997 LEON WORDEN — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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