Calls Grow to Halt the Marshmallow Wars of Ocean Beach

by on July 8, 2013 · 39 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing

OB Marshmallow aftermath 2013 04Enough locals in Ocean Beach have been incensed at the horrible mess left after the July 4th marshmallow fights that some of them are now calling for an end to the summer holiday tradition.

Mike James – a former leader of the business community –  has now began a facebook page, calling for “No More Marshmallow Wars“.  As of this morning, it already had 214 “likes” – and they were increasing by the hour.

OB Marshmallow aftermath 2013Here is what James says on his facebook page:

The now infamous Ocean Beach Marshmallow Wars has been taken over by idiots who could give a rat’s ass about our community. Take back our beaches.

This page was started by Mike James. Mike was instrumental in bringing back the fireworks to O.B. in 1980 after a long hiatus. His hope is to bring the community together to find a solution to what has become a destructive event in our community. He is joined by Tyler Brand, who has seen first hand the violence and the negative environmental impact the Marshmallow Wars have caused to Ocean Beach. …

There are a number of suggestions and observations on the page:

  • One thing that can be done is for the merchants to stop selling marshmallow a few days before.
  • Even one restaurant was selling marshmallows for $5 a bag.
  • The OBMA permitted a booth at the street fair to sell marshmallow guns.
  •  One suggestion is for an official public statement from the OBMA asking to bring it to an end with outreach being provided by the Beacon and OB Rag
  •  Locals can discourage visiting friends from taking part.

OB Marshmallow aftermath 2013 03In addition, more suggestions, observations, and comments on the issue have been left at several articles here at the OB Rag in recent days.  (We are simply outlining them here and do not necessarily support each one.)

  • Organize a long line of locals and volunteers holding hands and wrap around the beach area, and slowly corral the marshmallow throwers and gently have them congregate only in the original area of the marshmallow fight;
  • Marshmallows have become sand-studded projectiles hurled full-force by college “students” who care more about alcohol than their studies,
  • Young men roll M-80s into the path of passing cars,
  •  OB’s funky-hippy vibe has taken a turn toward anarchy.
  • ban all disposable containers. That means no soda bottles no beer cans.
  • Impose a strict limit on the size of reusable drinking containers that are permitted on the beach. That pretty much puts a limit of 2-3 drinks per person, so if one wants to remain hydrated the use their drink space wisely.
  • Throw a couple cops on the beach to check coolers and write tickets to anyone who is in violation.
  • Bottom line – if we actually care about our beaches and community, we wouldn’t allow this to continue to happen.
  • for events like this streets need to be made “one way” and have officers controlling the traffic. It would have been virtually impossible to get an emergency vehicle anywhere in to OB – or Pt. Loma – if needed.
  • the city shouldn’t permit block parties that last to midnight on the 4th. Some very drunk and aggressive homeowners had blocked off Cape May from Santa Barbara to Venice and wouldn’t let anyone through even though we were all stuck in gridlock.
  • crowded frenzy of the marshmallow fight creates the opportunity for anonymous violence that psychopaths love. What’s to stop someone from embedding a steel ball or a nail into a large marshmallow?
  • No fireworks , no fight.
  • organizations that speak for Ocean Beach such as the OBMA, Town Council and OB RAG, among others, to work throughout the year on ways to avoid a replete of this years mess.
  • This year the marshmallow throwing started a good ten minutes before the end of the show, which was very distracting since it took our attentions away from the show
  • Marshmallows that hit  were thrown with some vengeance (not like before), and several of them actually hurt. A couple of 20-something young women were chasing after each other thru the crowd and ran into us, not even bothering to apologize.
  • Five years or so ago, the marshmallows rarely went much past Abbott St., last year up to Bacon St., this year we saw remnants up to Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
  • Marshmallows found at Muir and Guizot – substantially further away from the sand and grassy area.
  • Time to stop the fireworks and get rid of all of the drunks that come into our community to act like pigs.
  • Eliminate the fireworks completely.
  • rope off a designated “Marshmallow throwing” area .
  • have a volunteer(s) walking around in the crowd before the fireworks and getting volunteers for July 5 clean-up.
  • Install 6 mil plastic on the plaza area concrete to minimize degrading substrates. Clean up would require scraping up the sand , marshmallows and plastic and hauling it away.
  • hire a competent pressure wash company to do the clean up.  Gutters and drains are blocked and high suction wet vacs are used to collect the waste water which has to be dumped in the sewer for treatment. It can not be in the untreated storm drain it has to be disposed of properly
  • Try to contain the wars to a specific area it will make the clean up faster , cheaper and more complete.
  • Have the clean up cost come right off the top of the funding for the fireworks.
  • Still finding marshmallows everywhere as late as July 7.
  • The sidewalk near the beach looks gross and will for months to come(again).
  • Grown men throwing marshmallows as hard as they could at people who were looking the other way(BEFORE the fireworks started) and then high fiving each other for nailing the unsuspecting lady or kid.
  • The vibe was not a good one. Lots of people taking the marshmallow thing and using it as an excuse to be drunk dicks.
  • OB Marshmallow aftermath 2013 02The line of cops on quads and in cars wasn’t cool either.They looked like they were waiting for a riot.They may get one


{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler July 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thanks for the write-up, Frank! It seems that many in the OB community are agreeing that this once fun past-time has become a nuisance and a liability. I am confident our community can work together to and come up with a logical solution.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Obecians don’t want to be authoritarian, but like this is ridiculous. The logical solution is to protect your community and put an end to free-lance M-80’s, booze on the beach and Fourth of July marshmallows.


Debbie July 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

How much do the fireworks cost including police, clean up, traffic control etc? Can/should this money be put to better use in OB to benefit the community? All the noise, traffic, crowds, vandalism, out of control behavior, increased alcohol use is nothing to be proud of or support. Maybe it’s time for a change. Use the money to fund the firepits, clean the pier, clean the beaches, add restrooms etc. If marshmellow wars are such a good idea and desired by the public, hold them at Qualcomm and charge for the event which would provide funds for police and clean up for the mellow party.


Dina July 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

these are really good ideas :-)


Gary Gilmore July 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Good suggestions Debbie. The fireworks are paid for with the proceeds from the Chili Cook Off & Street Fair. For at least one year it might be prudent to put the fireworks on hold & spend the Street Fair proceeds on a beautification project or something that could improve the quality of life here in OB. You came up with a few good ideas. I’d like very much to hear from others on what could be done.


Debra July 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I agree!!


OB Mercy July 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Mellow…it’s anything but Mellow! I just had a horrible thought.What’s going to happen when the new Veteran’s Memorial goes up in a couple of years and we have the Marshmallow wars? It’s going to leave a gooey ugly mess all over it! Geez, this has GOT to get under control somehow!


judi curry July 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

One of my new students was hit by a marshmallow and sustained a bruise. Luckily it was on her ankle. She told me something I didn’t know – the marshmallow was FROZEN – hence, the bruise. What if she had been hit in the eye? Besides being messy, it is now dangerous.


Debra July 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Yes, and so is lighting the things on fire and throwing them at unsuspecting people, via stick, as mentioned on another thread. I have a sinking feeling though, that nothing WILL be done, until someone is seriously injured and decides to sue.


obracer July 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

With so many people wanting to make a difference and bringing forward good ideas it’s worth trying to keep the fireworks.
With the help of the Obrag , OBMA & OBTC we can reach the majority of locals, which in turn can educate visitors.

We are very lucky to have this forum to come together and solve issues, thank you OBrag !


Tim July 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm



Frank Gormlie July 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

Tim – who are you and what post are you talking about? (And please don’t use all caps.)


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

Oh, you mean the comment that you trash homeless in? Decided not to post it as we have enough hate around us.


Gary Gilmore July 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Good decision Frank.


Michael Russell July 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Rock and roll is here to stay. Hate the tomatos don’t go to Bunol. Hate bulls don’t go to Pamplona. Hate marshmallows, move out of Ocean Beach.


Dave Rice July 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Funny enough, the James Gang (I believe Mike is no longer involved in the business) was cashing in by selling “marshmallow fight” t-shirts in the week before the Fourth…


Mike James July 9, 2013 at 8:35 am

Yep Dave, I am no longer involved the James Gang. The new owners are good people and I am sure they are regretful now for selling the shirts.


obdan July 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

just douse it, fireworks and all.. Independence Day here in America is a joke anymore. More restrictions are futile, just let it go.. find something to actually celebrate instead.


fstued July 9, 2013 at 8:54 am

Its run its course Time for a truce.


Bearded OBcean July 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

Isn’t this all just a sympton of what OB has steadily been moving toward over the last several years; The permissive attitude that anything and anyone goes?

Why in the world would we ban fireworks here? Maybe ban the marshmallow battles instead. It’s a shame that those of us who opt out of the post (now during) firework battle do our best to avoid the center of town because we don’t wish to become the object of target practice for drunken fools. Why should we be held hostage in our own homes?

Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before riot police forcibly remove the fools who partake in the marshmallow battle and OB descends into a further state of anarchy.


Clarke July 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

well said.

Imagine the rate of escalation the MM fights might have arrived at ‘without’ the booze ban…


Citizen Cane July 9, 2013 at 10:09 am

I was just reading the stats on cigarette butts from the beach cleaners. I wonder how few citations were written by the police for smoking violations on July 4th? Can we really expect a marshmellow ban to give us any relief? I doubt it.

We might be able to redirect the energy. Move the activity into the daylight hours, and make it competetive. A sort of Marshmellow Olmpics. A marshmellow distance throw, and another event for accuracy throwing a marshmellow at a target. Perhaps a relay race using hot dogs for batons. Businesses might even sponsor athletes and teams. We could also balance this with serious competitions, like a surfing contest and dory racing.

We can survive wihout the militarism of fireworks and toy guns for children on the Fourth of July. Maybe we should start by building a gazebo for Summer band music?


Clarke July 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm

dude, yer on some ‘brilliance’ medicine right now! great great ideas!!!!!! replace something fun but destructive with something MORE fun and not destructive!


Citizen Cane July 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

I mispelled Olympics, but I’m sure most of you muddled through. Here’s one more event…a marshmellow golf event where you use a 9 iron or a wedge to pitch out of a sand trap and land your marshmellow close to a target or flag. This could be done where we have grass bordering the sand.


Jon July 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

You also misspelled the word MarshmAllow. As do 80% of the people posting about this. For the last time people, there is no such thing as a marshmellow! You must be correcting spell checker, because it doesn’t want me to type that made up/misspelled word! Lol…

It’s all good though. You had some neat ideas. I like it. The idea of making it a more structured event is unique! Not sure it would stop the after-dark madness, but it’s a great starting point for more discussion. :)


Laura July 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Correcting spelling? I have to stop reading this paper. You are all a bunch of nasty, overly judgmental snobs. I know you think you are liberal and enlightened, but, you only serve to stir up controversy (like Walmart was ever coming here, you’d have to be an imbecile to think that was a real possibility) while being condescending. This publication should serve to educate our community, but the writers are too busy patting themselves on the back for perceiving themselves so much smarter than the rest of us.


Jon July 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Oh c’mon Laura, I wasn’t being nasty. I followed up with the lighthearted, obligatory “lol” and complemented citizen cane on his ideas. I just think it’s crazy that “everybody” somehow misspells that word. It’s an epidemic. Anyway, if you think my comment was nasty, you obviously haven’t read very much internet. Have a great night!


editordude July 10, 2013 at 8:54 am

Laura – just wanted to remind you that one of the things the OB Rag does is to provide an internet platform and discussion board for OBceans and others who care – or who don’t care – about OB.

We do have a comment policy and do not post comments that are sexist, racist, or that demean humans, or are personal attacks. Nasty, sarcastic and other shades of opinion are very often subjectively taken.

Re Wal-Mart coming to OB: it did seem far-fetched but as the article stated, there were “rumors” about some kind of Walmart store coming in – and we heard the rumors from at least two, independent sources, so, bottom line, it was worth checking out. So, we are NOT being “imbecile(s)” as you called us, which btw, is quiet NASTY.

IF we do pat ourselves on the back once in a while, it’s probably because we are paid such a handsome salary that we feel smart, wise, witty and sophisticated. We make hundreds of thousands of dollars on our T-shirt sales and advertisement revenue, as you can imagine. So, hey – thanks.


SaneVoice July 10, 2013 at 10:15 am

Yes, correcting spelling. If you can’t take the time to spell properly (especially a word that’s displayed right in front of your face), why should I take your opinion seriously ? It’s grade school education.


Debbie July 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Ahhh yes….right in front of our face! So sorry, please forgive the misspellings, at least it isn’t sticky and gooey like the marshAllows on the 4th of July in OB….I think my misspell was subconscious…cause the marshmallows were anything but Mellow. Frank, please don’t post any comments that have misspelling….only those with perfect spelling can be taken seriously :-)


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Where’s Spellcheck when you need it? Actually, I have a theory that Spellcheck is making us all dumber.


Clarke July 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I think everyone says mEllow that I talk to and hence the misspelling. So I now decree, I will from this point forth, spell it with an E!

[disclaimer,] the above was typed in jest in case the sarcasm challenged are roaming around.


Brian Brady July 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

“Actually, I have a theory that Spellcheck is making us all dumber.”

We agree on that. Spelling fascists serve a valuable role on the internet regardless of how nit-picky as they come across. I actually learned something from Jon today.


Dan Shay July 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I like “marsh-mellow” better anyway. Marshmallow is not as much fun. Who knew there was actually a marshmallow plant, Althaea Officinalis, used for medicinal purposes?!


Debbie July 10, 2013 at 9:21 pm
Dave Cieslak July 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Speaking solely as an OB resident/business owner and not on behalf of the OBTC Board: This “war” has turned from a friendly neighborhood event into a violent, dangerous melee. It desecrated the OB Veterans Plaza, damaged our businesses, left thousands of pounds of trash on our beaches, and made Newport and Abbott virtually impassable. Making matters worse, the fight resulted in harsh public criticism from tourists and visitors, and an ongoing barrage of negative media attention. There’s absolutely no reason to drop the annual 4th of July fireworks show, but it’s time to end the fight. San Diego PD should enforce the city’s littering/vandalism/assault laws next year, and let’s work together to stop this nonsense before it gets worse – and before OB’s public image gets tarnished again.


Frank Gormlie July 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

The facebook page now has 336 “likes” –


Ricardo July 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

OB has been a liberal and amoral community for a very long time. If anyone is surprised by the violence and vandalism that accompanies overly-permissive public policies, they are knuckleheads. Without a moral compass, any community –even our nation– is doomed to anarchy. Despite all the flowery images displayed by the media, the hippies were dirty and dangerous in the 60’s, and hoodlums of today are no different. Business owners and homeowners shouldn’t be surprised when they invest in a community that’s been trashy for decades. If you move to the desert, don’t complain about sand.


Frank Gormlie July 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

I am offering your comment, Ricardo, as an example of what we’re up against in trying to develop a rationale society. To call OB “amoral” and it’s “doomed to anarchy” and that you allege “the hippies were dirty and dangerous in the 60’s” is a SERIOUS misread of what has happened in OB and the nation over the last 40 years. Perhaps you can’t help it Ricardo, because you believe everything the U-T or FoxNews says about anything. It doesn’t sound like you actually know the village of OB. Try to open your mind and let some fresh air in.


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