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Thursday, May 22, 2008
Is candy rule really needed?

Philip Wolf, The Daily News (Nanaimo) Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's the best part of any parade?

The impressive floats? The marching bands? The wacky costumes on the service club members? The cheesy politicians doing the "screwing in the lightbulb" wave?
If you're a kid, the answer is easy: The candy.

You're not sitting there for an hour or three in the blazing sunshine without the potential for some sort of reward.
The time-honoured tradition of the mad scramble for a stale Dubble Bubble (circa 1977) keeps the adrenaline flowing.

The thought of getting that treasured balloon from Johnny's Teacup Warehouse . . . magic.
At Nanaimo's annual Empire Days parade on Sunday, it was a dentist's delight - nary a candy in sight.
In fact, hardly a giveaway at all. The odd deck of cards from the casino float, a few mascot masks from a financial institution and that's about it.
Where's the fun in that, you ask?
Well, several of you did, so I went about finding the answer, and it's a simple one.

Ron Lillie doesn't want any dead bodies.
Lillie, chairman of the Empire Days parade, said the process of doling out the candy is simply too dangerous.
He said if the candy is tossed too close to the wheels of a moving vehicle "babies suddenly see it and dive for it."
He said he has personally witnessed several close calls.
"It's strictly a safety issue," he said.
Personally, I don't see a problem with the tossing of candy from the floats, even in Nanaimo.

Most kids understand the merits of not running in front of a moving vehicle.
Most folks on a float understand the merits of tossing the candies far from the vehicles (which aren't exactly moving like the Mach 5 either).
"It's OK in Victoria, where there's a long distance (between the floats and the crowd)," said Lillie. "In Nanaimo, the streets are just too narrow."
Now, before we categorize the Nanaimo organizers as overzealous fun police, accidents happen.

A nine-year-old boy was killed last year at a Christmas parade in Plant City, Fla., run over as he reached for a wayward sweet tossed from a float.
Other parades throughout North America also have rules against tossing candy.

Lillie said marshals will often turn a blind eye to giveaways (still technically not allowed) if they involve people walking to the curbs to safely hand out the goodies.

It would be easy to argue that sends a mixed message. What happens if little Jenny decides that she wants a balloon animal from Chuckles the Clown (who was handing them out safely) and starts chasing him down the road, only to get clipped by the Precision Pogo Stick Squad?
A lot of it seems to bring to mind your granny waving her finger at you and warning that "someone's going to lose an eye."

Are organizers being overprotective or unnecessarily cautious?
Or are they simply being prudent, since any accident is one too many?
Interesting call. Choosing to err on the side of caution isn't a bad strategy in this case.
Either way, the parade is always a good time (for geezers like me anyway) and a credit to the hard work of the organizers and the participants.
But it would be a lot better if they figured out a way to allow more goodies.

Right kids?
Philip Wolf's column runs regularly in this space. If you would like to comment on his opinion, send your letter to letters@

by: Woodstock Candy


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