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Paynesville Press - May 29, 2002

Parade candy concerns city council

By Michael Jacobson

Last week, the Paynesville City Council approved a parade permit for the annual Town and Country Days parade, but expressed its safety concerns about the practice of throwing candy from floats into the crowd.

This year's parade will be held on Wednesday, June 19, and will follow the same route as previous years: starting in the Industrial Park, heading south along Washburne Avenue, going west past Paynesville Area Elementary School on Mill Street, turning south on Maple Street, and ending at St. Louis Catholic Church.

Concerns over candy throwing from police chief Tony Schmitt were brought to the attention of the council. The written recommendation of the police department is that the city would be hard pressed to issue a parade permit in 2003 if this safety issue is not addressed.

Schmitt did support issuing the parade permit this year.

For safety reasons, a clause in the parade permit specifically prohibits parade participants from throwing or tossing candy from any vehicles. The distribution of candy to the crowd must be done by individuals walking along the parade route.

Council members were supportive of the tradition of distributing candy along the parade route, but were concerned about safety, even though any actual injuries from throwing candy were unknown. "It is one of the things that people along the parade route enjoy," said council member Dennis Zimmerman.

Council member Dave Peschong, who in real life is a Stearns County Sheriff's Deputy, noted that the worst-case scenario: having a two-year-old run into the street to fetch candy. "If these kids get excited about a piece of candy and run out there…we'd be better safe than sorry," he said.

How to enforce the provision to not throw candy could be difficult, especially since the community wants to encourage participation in the parade.

The Chamber of Commerce, it was suggested, could try to make parade participants aware of the ban on throwing candy. More severe possible solutions would be to have parade participants sign agreements to not throw candy and then not invite violators back the next year.

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