Oh, the Mess, the Mess … the Gooey Mess – Open Thread : What Are Your Thoughts Or Observations?

by on July 5, 2013 · 39 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

It’s the Fifth of July – The Day After – and as usual, there’s a clean-up job to do in Ocean Beach.

Is the mess worse this year? Was it worse last night? How far did it get?

What are your thoughts? What are / were your observations?  Put ’em here in the comments.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Fortinbras McShane July 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

Having been unfortunate enough to experience the aggressive (as opposed to the festive) side of the marshmallow war, as well as OB’s devil-may-care backyard fireworks fascination, I can say that OB has a serious problem on its hands. When marshmallows become sand-studded projectiles hurled full-force by college “students” who care more about alcohol than their studies, and when Frat Boys roll M-80s into the path of passing cars, one could say that OB’s funky-hippy vibe has taken a turn toward anarchy. The only thing missing from this Lord-of-the-Flies style degeneration is the head of a pig impaled upon a stake.


Ally July 6, 2013 at 6:32 am

There is one way to get rid of the drunk college kids. if you want to keep the hippie vibe in the area, 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. It’s painful to put limits on the party like that. But it had to be done here on the rivers in Texas. It got to the point where families could not take a day on the river because there were so many drunk college kids that were either puking in the river or hopping out of the river to pee, puke, litter, copulate and pass out in backyards of residents’ property.
don’t get me wrong I’m not a crotchety old lady that loves the river Nazis. But I do believe that certain activities belong in certain places


Tyler July 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

BAN the fight. Worse and worse each year. I called out multiple people at a party yesterday after they were talking about the fight. I asked them how many would be there in the morning to help clean and they all stood there in silence. Everyone want to have fun but not deal with tHe repercussions. It’s pathetic that we allow the city population and residents to just come down and trash out community. I stayed away from the mayhem as much as I could be sticking to the end of Brighton, but even there a HUGE fight broke out during the fireworks. I don’t know how anyone can say its getting toned down. Immature, ignorant people will keep pushing the envelope until it goes too far. I shouldn’t have to pick up 60+ pounds of trash off 2 square blocks this morning. It was probably 50% marshmallows, 30% cig butts, 20% beer cans and bottles (plenty of glass), with the rest being misc.

Bottom line – if we actually care about our beaches and community, we wouldn’t allow this to continue to happen. The fight started off as harmless fun and I wish it would stay like that, but the fact is its only drawing worse and worse crowds. I’m sure the OBMA doesn’t care Al’s much because it generates crazy revenue for their shops. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ was disturbed to see they let everything be pushed from sidewalks to the street.


judi curry July 5, 2013 at 11:27 am

I had a friend that paddled out to the pier to watch the fireworks. She took one of my student’s with her and they came back to the house at 10:00pm, fighting traffic and crazy drivers all the way. She knew traffic would be bad going back to Clairemont so she stayed until 11:15pm and then left. At 11:30pm she was back. The gridlock was so bad she couldn’t make any progress out of OB. She took a nap and left at 1:00am, and found that although the traffic wasn’t as bad, it was still bad. Took her almost one hour to get home.

Can’t help but picture the “Tsunami” signs leading out of OB. Maybe 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.


Debra July 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You are absolutely right about emergency vehicles having no access to our community, following the fireworks, virtually EVERY 4th of July. Sickening and frightening for ALL of us.


Tyler July 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

The police most certainly need to direct traffic on the way out. I wanted to be nice and drive my friends into point loma thinking I could skip traffic going the other way. Nope! Bumper to bumper everywhere., no matter where you went. Took me over an hour to drive to PL Bagel!

Also, 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. The worst part was not a single one of the was actually in the road in Cape May! They were all hanging on Santa Barbara. As I got out of my car to see if it was a legal block party, I had several belligerent middle aged men immediately harass me and call my an asshole/piece of shit because I wanted to know why I couldn’t get through. Some Poeple…. One man had the class and tact of a 16 year old but couldn’t have been younger than late 40s.

Ok. End rant


Christa July 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I live about 4 blocks from the Newport & Abbott. We had someone throw a bottle against the side of our house about 30 minutes after the fireworks ended, not only startling the hell out of us, but leaving shards of glass all over the ground. Someone also smeared melted marshmallow all over our mailbox. The commotion outside sounded like it was on the brink of a riot, and didn’t settle down for a long time.

People take something that is supposed to be fun and use it as an excuse to be total idiots and trash the streets of a neighborhood they more than likely don’t live in. This is why we can’t have nice things.


obracer July 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Make those responsible take responsibility for their actions, like the O.B.M.A. that claims it has nothing to do with the marsh mellow fight and the mess it creates.
I think more people came for the fight than the fireworks, I saw hundreds of people with bags of marsh mellows ( also sold locally ) walking towards the beach after the fireworks.
There is no doubt that good people outnumber the bad ones in O.B., by far.
Do your part to make O.B. a better place and others will follow, it’s contagious.
Sweep the sidewalk in front of your home and one of your neighbors will more than likely do the same thing.
This is still a very special place to live, we just need to put the O.B.M.A. in it’s proper place.


editordude July 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

The OBMA does NOT sponsor or have anything to do with the marshmallow madness. It has a life of its own. Review our posts on its history and past discussions on whether to ban it or not. http://obrag.org/?p=75114


obracer July 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Dear Editordude, On what other days do we have marsh mellow fights in O.B. ?


Debra July 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm

“Sweep the sidewalk in front of your home…” (?!?). Sorry obracer, that’s a lovely sentiment, but I’ve been doing that for the past 5yrs, ever since I was forced to retire. I even sweep the sidewalk in front of 3 of my neighbor’s homes as well, on a weekly basis. NO ONE ELSE bothers to follow my example.


editordude July 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm

We received this appropriate comment from an OB business owner:

“I was at the Mainstreet Office a few minutes ago and am a little disgusted at the number of people blaming the association for the marshmallow fight. I own a business in OB and we are responsible for putting on the FIREWORKS
on the 4th. We do not condone nor do we support or encourage any infantile behavior that results from people who come to the beach and get out of control.”
Pat Warren


obracer July 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

How often do we have marsh mellow fights in O.B. ?
Once a year Pat, July 4th after the FIREWORKS that the O.B.M.A. & it’s MEMBERS pay for and promote.
Don’t run from your responsibilities Pat, man up & clean up.


Frank Gormlie July 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Here’s an excerpt from the U-T:

But ground zero was at Ocean Beach, where the marshmallow fight has been a long-standing tradition. Archival news stories cite its origins as a friendly feud between two rival Independence Day parties in the 1980’s. Over the next decades it attracted more participants, spread to surrounding beaches and once, reportedly, drew riot police.

Ocean Beach artist Michael Creger said, however, that this year’s fight was among the fiercest.

“Last night was a lot more aggressive” than previous battles, he said.

At 6:30 a.m. he walked to the beach for a cup of coffee, he said, intending to come back several hours later for the cleanup.

What he saw convinced him to start work immediately. The ground appeared to be a tundra of marshmallows, dotted with abandoned flip-flops. Creger himself lost a shoe to the goop, but continued collecting debris.

Ocean Beach resident Jeff Snodgrass cleaned up Friday with his sons Lorenzo Petska, 12 and Sebastian Snodgrass, 6, and nephew Brandon Witham, 11.

Describing the previous evening’s battle as “fun” and “awesome,” the boys described being pelted with marshmallows in the melee. The marshmallow fight is fine, Jeff Snodgrass said, as long as people help clear the aftermath.

“We’re trying to teach them responsibility,” he said. “If you do silly things, you’ve got to clean up.”


Fortinbras McShane July 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

As Christa pointed out, what started out as a fun tradition has morphed into something hijacked by idiots. If idiocy could be kept harmless or limited to small vandalism (bottles thrown against a house) then calls for abolishing the marshmallow fight might sound too authoritarian. But, any student of history and human nature can see that things have gotten out of hand. First, the 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? Second, the complete gridlock on the OB streets means that emergency vehicles will be unable to tend the injured in a timely fashion.


obracer July 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Keep doing what your doing Debra, eventually someone else will join you.


obracer July 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

No fireworks , no fight.


Debra July 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I’m with ya there.


thetruth July 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

While many of his concerns are legitimate, it appears that obracer has a personal vendetta against the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association. He has been known to comment negatively on ANY issue in which they are involved. For the good of the community we need to work together in a true open dialogue on how best to address this issue without personal agendas.


obracer July 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Dear Thetruth,
First of all, you’ve heard of me, but you don’t know me.
It’s not secret I don’t like the OBMA, and I’m not the only one.
You don’t deal with the problems they create near and around my home.
I see them for what they are, an organization that represents local business owners.
The # 1 reason they exist is to protect the interest of it’s members.
Here is a very recent example.
The OBMA had an event, attendees thrashed the venue, as usual they trash the gutters to take care of themselves, they didn’t have veterans plaza or the pier cleaned, just the areas that affected their members. The proof is in the pudding.
If they want to hide their head in the sand and run from responsibility, and claim they have NOTHING to do with the marshmallow fights, then the community must come together to at least try to save the marshmallow fights.
As I mentioned before start with signs, public announcements from the lifeguard tower, barriers. Notify police and see if they can suggest other ways to control the crowd.
I also believe it’s a liability issue, who wants to be responsible for buying liability insurance for an event like this ? this may be the reason nobody wants to put their name on it.
Bottom line, if nobody sponsored the fireworks, the fight would not occur.
I’m ready to help in any way I can.


Gary Gilmore July 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm

OK OBracer……lets see, you live in Southern California, about 50 yards from the Pacific Ocean and a beautiful beach, in front of a favorite surfing spot, right next to one of the most iconic and longest fishing piers on the west coast, in a tightly knit neighborhood known for its independent spirit and you become boarder line apoplectic when crowds gather for frivolity?
Now, I agree with the majority of the comments. The marshmallow fight is no longer the friendly rivalry between Santa Monica & Saratoga street. It has now spun out of control in a way that can only get worse.
I feel confident that the organizations that speak for Ocean Beach such as the OBMA, The Town Council and The OB RAG, among others, will be working throughout the year on ways to avoid a replete of this years mess.


obracer July 8, 2013 at 7:36 am

Dear Mr Gilmore
I have no problem with crowds or concerts or events I sit outside and enjoy them when I can. I think it’s great people stop and enjoy whats left of the view not blocked by a 45 foot trailer.
I would like to sit down some day with you and discuss the issues first hand. You are not getting the whole story.You have no idea how many times and for how many YEARS I have asked them not to power wash trash into the gutter.
I have noticed your previous comments on other subjects have been aimed at solving the issues.
I have tried for YEARS to work with the O.B.M.A. Changes have come from the special events office not the O.B.M.A.
If you can be the go between that would be great.
I’m not asking for anything new or special, just the same respect that is given to beachfront residents in San Diego and all over California.
Thanks for being the calm voice.


Michele July 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

We usually walk to the grassy area about 8:30pm, the fireworks start at 9:pm (this year they were right on time), and the marshmallow fight starts at the conclusion of the fireworks show. We leave right then and usually get pummeled with a few random marshmallows. No biggie. 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 (and that incredible waterfall of light at the end of the pier). The marshmallows that hit us 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. It’s accelerating a bit each year, and at some point what was once innocent fun, will be ruined and no longer allowed. 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. Also the partiers were drunker than usual this time, and well before the show, someone decided to empty their bladder on the tire of one of our parked vehicles (no it wasn’t a dog)… we hosed that off. An hour later a puddle of vomit in the alley behind one of the parked cars… we hosed that off. And this morning the lovely surprise of a puddle of diarrhea on the cement drive where someone used our vehicle bumper for a toilet seat… which had to be hosed and scrubbed down (no, it wasn’t the homeless folks) with disinfectant. Very, very unpleasant.


Debra July 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

I saw several marshmallows (along with more trash than usual) on the street, while walking my dogs Saturday morning on Muir and Guizot. That’s substantially further away from the sand and grassy area. I think it’s time to stop the fireworks and get rid of all of the drunks that come into our community to act like pigs. We have enough of a problem as it is, with our own drunken pigs that live around here, why attract more?


Mike James July 6, 2013 at 3:13 am


Time to work together. Like and share.


gailpowell July 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Time to work together and have a dialogue about what’s really happening.



tennyson July 6, 2013 at 8:34 am

what OB has encouraged as humane or whacky fun carried to extreme ceases to be either –now it’s call in the cops on the taxpayer dime to police these small groups on
one of the busiest nights of the year. OB can then blame the police if it gets outta control…OB, I fear, is lying itself wide open to very destructive gentrification


Tyler July 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

What exactly are you trying to convey with your post?


claudia jack July 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Hi Frank~~ I have been keeping up with all the comments about 4th of July~~ I really have to say Thanks for the comments, positive & negative~~ I read each comment and realize their are a few people making comments that are not true~~I know some people go on & on and Blah Blah and never do anything that will help OB, just cause trouble or start a war~~ True Facts are important>> Example~~ People who wash or rinse their car’s in a alley and the water runs down to the street? Ummmm, then when signs are posted on Newport in parking lots, they are removed or knocked down and yea a few locals saw this being done~~~ Also Street Fair saturday quite of few merchant came to their shops and found their doors had been super glued!!! People need to RESPECT each other and realize 8 out of 10 merchants are family owned which makes are community Special>> I agree with Mike James, Pat Warren and Mercy about addressing the Marshmellow issues, so let’s all work together and face what has to be done to make it better~~ I know some people never step up to the plate and all they do is cause nothing but trouble, so the one’s of us who care let’s make this happen, I know the one’s who care will out number the one’s who run their mouth all the time?? Ummmmmm ob!!!!!!!


obracer July 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Dear Ms Jack—-There are cameras all over over Newport Ave, why don’t you post a photo of the person your so sure is doing all of this vandalism ? I’m sure your members would be happy to provide the information to you and the police.
Or maybe your just making accusations you can’t prove ?

Own up to the mess your event left in our community and take care of it without thrashing the environment. I’m glad you want to help now, is this the first time you’ve noticed the mess ?

99% of local residents support our local merchants, as I do, I always try to buy local first. They are not the problem, they are invaluable to the community.


claudia jack July 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Amazing how some people have nothing else to do but be Negative & usually it’s the same people~~ Some of the criminal actions that are being done are like a puzzle to solve them, you just have to wait till all the pieces are put together!!!

It’s amazing you quote the mess is my event, that is once again untrue, the true fact of the event you are referring to was started by 2 streets in OB & 2 guys, 20 years ago as a fun thing to do. As I said before I have attended & supported many events, meetings and fundraisers with alot of people who have made comments and these people are ready to address the issue and move forward!!!

One of the biggest event I support is the OB Holiday Food & Toy Drive for over 20 years, I’m proud to say last year the Food & Toy Drive adoped 70 local families, 13 Seniors and 12 women in a court ordered Safe House in OB>> Being a volunteer and a community player is very rewarding~~

Once again, I agree with Mike James, Pat Warren, Mercy and a few others, let’s get going & solve the issue~~


Gary Gilmore July 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Ok… In an effort to be proactive I’d like to hear some level headed suggestions on how to minimize the mess or, how to eliminate the marshmallow wars. I’m grappling with A). Eliminate the fireworks completely. B). rope off a designated “Marshmallow throwing” area or C). have a volunteer(s) walking around in the croud before the fireworks and getting volunteers for July 5 clean-up.


jim grant July 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

1. Install 6 mil plastic on the plaza area concrete then 2″ of sand this is commonly done in construction to minimize degrading substrates. Clean up would require scraping up the sand , marshmallows and plastic and hauling it away.
2. Skip step 1 and hire a competent pressure wash company to do the clean up. They are around but it is not cheap. 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.
3. TRY and contain the wars to a specific area it will make the clean up faster , cheaper and more complete.
4. Have the clean up cost come right off the top of the funding for the fireworks.

Good Luck.


obracer July 8, 2013 at 9:42 am

Great Ideas, lets combine them with Mr Gilmore’s.
This is why I think it’s too early to cancel the fireworks, the more people come forward with Ideas the better chance we have of containing most of the damage.
It is certainly worth a try.


Kenloc July 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm

July 7th.Still finding marshmallows everywhere.The sidewalk near the beach looks gross and will for months to come(again). It does give my dog lots to do while going for a walk though.
What I saw in the park that night was ridiculous. Grown men throwing mashmellows as hard as they could at people who were looking the other way(BEFORE the fireworks started) and then high fiving eachother for nailing the unsuspecting lady or kid.IDIOTS…….
I live down the street and have already decided to do something different next year.It’s supposed to be a good time.The vibe I was getting was not a good one.Lots of people taking the marshmellow thing and using it as an excuse to be drunk dicks.The 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 in the next year or two.


Craig Klein July 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

I think it is time to re-think the whole marshmallow fight thing. It reminds me of what happened with the Grateful Dead scene after “Touch of Grey” , too many trendy hangers on showing up and ruining what was a small, fun, thing. I know that some people may not be happy with this comment, but the marshmallow fight has gotten out of hand.


Catherine July 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Well, I’m just a broken record on this subject, but I think the issue is larger than just marshmallows and the mess they create. I’m not a fan of the fight but I think we’ve allowed an environment to flourish in OB on the Fourth that is just not very family friendly. I know other people take their children to the event and report all having a great time. Call me crazy, but I think families with even very young children (under 3) ought to be able to go to the beach in their own neighborhood and enjoy a fireworks show without having to fight their way home or have illegal fireworks set off all around them. There are some good ideas here about how to discourage the craziness of it. So far, other than complaining after the fact, the fight is very much encouraged by our community. I have not seen this myself recently, but from others here, local businesses specifically sell marshmallows and marshmallow guns in the days leading up to the event. If true, this is a tacit endorsement of the event and businesses should be discouraged from doing that by OBMA and residents.

We can’t really ban the fight and I don’t agree with having police searching people’s coolers for, what, marshmallows? They aren’t illegal and the police would never agree to it not to mention the resources that would require.

The police could be a lot more proactive in policing the area on the Fourth by getting out of their cars and watchtowers and actually writing tickets for illegal fireworks that go off all night. OB has a problem with illegal fireworks all summer, but those are nearly impossible to do much about if you don’t observe their precise location. But on the Fourth of July people set them off on the beach and in the park area adjacent to the beach in plain view of the police and everybody. Most certainly, the police observe these activities but they aren’t writing tickets as far as I know because if they were, there would probably be a lot less of them. So one step would be to initiate a conversation with the police about how to be more proactive about tamping down disorderly conduct, including fireworks and drunkenness, throughout the afternoon and evening that leads to the craziness at 9pm.

Local bars should also be engaged in a conversation about overserving customers to reduce the number of drunks.

Finally, I think it’s easy to pin this all on the drunken, careless actions of college students, but the truth is the war crowd is diverse in age and occupation and includes many locals who care about the community.

But I don’t really see how anyone could say it hasn’t gotten out of control when, basically, if you don’t want to participate, you pretty much have to forgo the fireworks show. Is that really fair? Seeing the fireworks from the beach is pretty spectacular but my elderly mother-in-law with bad knees doesn’t want to pelt others or be pelted with marshmallows and my nearly two-year old son could be seriously injured. Some people may find it safe for kids, but when I’ve been I haven’t found that most participants are all that discriminating about their targets. And I’ve been hit with enough hardened marshmallows to know that plenty of people are just going out of their way to make it rougher. They probably don’t mean to hit a stranger with the marshmallow they’ve stuffed rocks in, the one they thought would be funny to hit their friend with, but it’s a chaotic scene and so they do. So we don’t go anymore. We stay home and watch from a safe distance. I see the fireworks show fundraiser coffee cans in shops for several weeks before the event and I’ve stopped contributing to it because it’s not really a family friendly community event anymore.


Sean m July 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Ban marshmallows or put a $.10 tax on each marshmallow sold.


claudia jack July 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm

OK~~~ How about PEEPS???? or Rubber Duck’s???? Ummmmmmm cj


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