By Giovanni Ingolia
Beside the turmoil that has been happening at city hall (A subject I would much prefer to discuss as its implications are much greater), Ocean Beach has a controversy of its own- the marshmallow fight after the fireworks.
I want to remind everyone this is not an event sponsored by the OB Town Council, OB Planning Board, OB CDC, OB Historic Society or OB Main Street Association. I personally sit as a board member on two of the groups and follow every one of them. They all do great jobs. (Remember this is my opinion and not that of the boards I sit on.)
The marshmallow fight event has its supporters and its detractors. Both sides make good points that are hard to disagree with. One thing all groups have in common is this event shouldn’t be harmful to others and the mess should be cleaned up immediately due to the problems it creates to the environment. We need to all work together.
Problems with a Ban
When I first started to see calls for the ban of the marshmallow fight there were also calls to end the fireworks.
Banning the 4th of July fireworks, a tradition that honors our country’s birth, should never be stopped in OB. To me I thought we really need to stop being reactionary and start being rational. I think we need to think the process out logically.
I will point to the alcohol beach ban as an example. I was led to believe it would get rid of the traveling homeless individuals that congregate on Newport by the pier, and that it would make our beaches cleaner during events such as our beloved Independence Day celebration.
It was a riot in PB by a bunch of NON-BEACH residents that made the city residents ban alcohol by law abiding citizens in places like Ocean Beach. After the ban it appears the problem is worse with the homeless travelers and the beach is dirtier after the 4th. Apparently that ban did not work so I ask will a ban to the marshmallow fight work, who will enforce it, and how?
Reasons for a Ban
Yes, the marshmallow fight is, in some locations, out of control.
I make sure my car isn’t parked by my house and is parked up the hill out of OB knowing it will be covered in marshmallows the next day.
I avoid the corner of Newport and Abbott as I know that’s where the center of the problem is.
The next day our beach is trashed in marshmallows that end up in the storm drain, harming aquatic life and it can’t be good for a pelican or seagull to eat them. After all they are unhealthy for me to eat as well.
There is also a cost to business and residents in the epicenter. Businesses have to pay staff to clean up the marshmallows and residents have to take time to clean the exterior of their homes preventing them from enjoying our beautiful weather and the community we live in.
The Elephant in the Room
No matter what your view we need to realize there is community support in an unorganized way. Our businesses sell marshmallows, t-shirts, and marshmallow cannons at events.
It makes money and that’s the American way. Should the t-shirts be banned? Is that a violation of the first amendment? What about the sale of marshmallows? Does that add to restrictions on business?
Lastly banning the sale of marshmallow cannons at the street fair? Is this a violation of the 2nd amendment?
Yes, I was being facetious. Some may say don’t go to OB due to the marshmallow fight. Other individuals say you should come down and see how crazy fun this is and their curiosity leads them to Newport and Abbott. This event brings people and revenue into our community who will then potentially come again and support our business community.
What I have found is one half of me enjoys it and the other half hates it.
In the end there is plenty of blame to go around and we all need to stop pointing fingers. Even the local and national news have reports of this event. It’s all over YouTube. What we all need to do is sit down, discuss it, come up with a logical solution, and respect each other’s position.
With that said I will not take a stand on this issue one way or another until I see a clear logical solution. Don’t let history repeat itself. Bans aren’t always the solution. One only needs to point to the alcohol beach ban as proof.
Giovanni Ingolia is a member of the OB Planning Board and is Chair of the Public Facilities Financing Sub-committee of the Board.