“Mallow out!” Says the OB Town Council – No More Marshmallow War

by on July 1, 2014 · 46 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Gretchen Newsom, President of the OBTC, addresses the media during Tuesday’s press conference at Veterans’ Plaza. (Photo by Matthew Wood)

By Matthew Wood

If the Town Council has its way, Ocean Beach will be a marshmallow-free zone this Fourth of July.

Town Council President Gretchen Newsom hammered home that point Tuesday morning during a press conference at the Veterans Memorial by the beach as they spread the word to “Mallow Out.”

“This has been too much. The last couple of years, it’s gotten completely out of control. It has desecrated our memorial,” she said. “It’s time for our community to clean itself up.”

The Town Council is calling for all businesses to stop selling marshmallows in order to keep participation down. Newsom cited people throwing marshmallows that frozen, on fire and stuffed with batteries at last year’s Marshmallow War.

Captain Joe Ramos, of the San Diego Police’s Western Division, said he hopes revelers will keep it under control this year.

“We are here as law enforcement for Ocean Beach, but we want to make sure everyone has a safe time on the Fourth of July.”

He said there will be more than 100 officers dedicated to the beaches. While declining to cite an exact number, he said “a good deal of them” will be dispatched to OB.

“We will be enforcing laws as we see necessary. … Our goal is to not have to cite anybody. We want to see a reduction in activity through compliance.”

Newsom read a letter from City Council District 2 representative Ed Harris, who was unable to attend Tuesday’s press conference. It read, in part:

“What started out as friendly fun on the beach has spiraled out of control.”

Roger Kube, chair of the Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego Chapter, cited numbers from the group’s last two beach cleanups the day after Fourth of July. He said that in 2012, they picked up 2,600 pounds of litter and more than 2,000 pounds came from Oceach Beach. In 2013, they had more than 2,400 pounds, 1,800 of which came from our beach.

“The amount of litter on the beaches has just become overwhelming,” he said.

Despite the pleas from the Town Council and OB Mainstreet Association, marshmallows are still available in some area stores.

Grace Cordell, an employee at Rite-Aid, said they will still be selling their regular stock of marshmallows, but won’t be ordering any extras.

Newsom said that’s not enough and she’s hoping all stores in OB will comply with their wishes to stop selling marshmallows.

“We want them off the shelves now. Right now.”

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Not gonna happen. And the result is going to be ugly. So glad we will not be there to get arrested or assaulted in the OBTC-caused riot.

Be back on Saturday to tell you all “I told you so”.


Mike James July 5, 2014 at 8:18 am

Aging Hippie your delusional prophesy did not come to pass. Due to the O.B. Town Council’s efforts the Marshmallow War was reduced to a fraction of what it was last year. The increased presence of the SDPD on the sidelines was also a great deterrent. Aging Hippie it is time for you to eat your words. I suggest adding chocolate and graham crackers.


Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 9:43 am


As a matter of fact, I was right. Your arrogant slogan did not end the marshmallow fight, and your involvement of the police did cause violence and arrests, as documented in this news story.


OB Joe July 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Aging Hippie – I’ve taken note of all your comments over the past couple of weeks on the Rag here on the marshmallow wars. I don’t agree with you on the riot part. The police will be mellow and hopefully the crowd will be small.

Don’t be so cynical, my friend.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

We made other plans specifically because I’m certain there will be violence. I’m also certain that the marshmallow fight will not stop or even slow down as a result of this. OBTC is engaged in an extremely foolish course of action with dire consequences. How can you hope to halt a tradition that you didn’t start?



Ian July 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

It is community outrage at the disgusting mess that Aging Hippy, and his cohorts, have created over the past few years, that has forced the OBTC to take action.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 3:17 pm

The OBTC hasn’t, and cannot, take any effective action. All they can do is add a violent altercation with police to the existing chaos and mess, which is what they are choosing to do.

Once again we see the real issue here: it’s a mess. The rest of it’s just excuses.


Ian July 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Altercations take two parties. The vast majority of the community (who actually live here), support an increased police presence to prevent this mess from exploding on our beach again. You are in the minority, in your support of allowing our beach to be trashed.

Community awareness (which includes asking businesses to forego their part in the problem) can be part of an effective solution.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I am not in support of it. I simply recognize that the OBTC attempt to ban it is going to fail, and cause disastrous side effects. If you thought the damage from marshmallows was bad, wait until you see the damage from a riot.

I agree with the businesses voluntarily stopping their promotion of it, that part is an effective measure.


Goatskull July 2, 2014 at 8:18 am

I kind of get the impression you WANT an altercation to happen, only you want to witness it from a safe distance.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 8:43 am

Actually no, I held out the faint but ultimately unrealistic hope that the OBTC would have enough sense to realize that they were trying to ban a force majeure, and their effort was doomed to fail. That realization might lead them to a course of action that would improve the situation rather than making it worse.

Instead, they arrogantly proclaim the marshmallow war over, a claim which is going to look very foolish on Saturday morning, they attempt to recruit volunteers to confiscate private property from others, and they try to enlist the police to suppress it, which will result in violence, arrests, and property damage far in excess of any prior marshmallow fight. The only thing they’ve done that made any sense was to ask area vendors not to provide supplies.


Tyler July 2, 2014 at 8:49 am

I like how you are calling everyone arrogant but don’t see the irony in the fact that all your posts reek of arrogance.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 8:52 am

I didn’t call everyone arrogant, just the OBTC.


Ian July 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Also, the idea that this is a long standing tradition in the community is a laughable myth. It was a small party, for a small group, that didn’t create much mess, but now it is a nuisance for those of us who actually live here.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Every July 4 since 1985. Sounds like a long standing tradition to me.



Ian July 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm

It was not a community tradition. How do I know? Because I have been watching the fireworks at the beach since the early ’90s, and waked home past the pier, after the fireworks, most years from 2001-2010. It was always a small group having fun, with minimal community consequences (not a big mess).

It was a tradition, like your small family tradition of sitting on the sand, or paddling out in the surf to watch the fireworks, not a community tradition like the OB Christmas tree, or Surfrider paddle around the pier.

Obviously some people want it to be a community tradition, but the fact is, from someone who has been there… It never was. It was just a fun thing that people did, which has exploded into an unmanageable mess. It is time for it to end.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 4:22 pm

This is not the way to accomplish that. This is the way to keep the marshmallow fight going, and add a riot.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Side note: has anyone else noticed how the tale of the 2013 marshmallow fight keeps getting embellished? First, there were frozen marshmallows. Then, there were flaming marshmallows. Then, frozen marshmallows fired from marshmallow guns (that won’t work, the gun won’t fire if the marshmallow isn’t soft). Now, we have marshmallows with batteries in them. By Friday we’ll be discussing how in 2013 there were spiked marshmallows tipped with poison and marshmallows with radioactive enriched uranium cores.


Rick D. July 1, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Dear Aging Hippie: I guess I fail to understand your position re the Marshmallow War. Are you saying, well, because it’s a “tradition,” it is somehow sacred and must be allowed to continue? By that token, there are plenty of so-called traditions (cockfighting, firecrackers, threatening graffiti et al, drag-racing) that, if not dangerous, are surely disgusting and/or damaging. Shall we give up trying to control those as well? Or, maybe you are arguing that this is some sort of expression of Free Speech? As the saying goes, free speech ends at the end of my nose. . .
Or are you suggesting that, well, the cops can’t really do anything about it, so they’re just going to make things worse? That may be but, since when is unruly, or illegal behavior to be ignored if enforcing the law could lead to an unpleasant situation? At the least, the Marshmallow War lovers are engaged in littering — serious littering– at our beach and plaza. I hope the cops enforce the law. My dog isn’t allowed to leave anything on the beach or sidewalk; why should anyone else in the name of good-natured “fun” be permitted to, especially when it makes such a goddam mess?
Whether you consider thrown marshmallows to be a weapon, plenty of people don’t care to be hit in the face by an apple-sized marshmallow covered in sand, as the mom of one of my son’s buddies was last year. My dog’s feet were literally fused to the concrete when we were foolish enough to try to walk across the Veterans Plaza the day after the fight. I had to squirt water onto her paws to free them, while she was stuck like a bug in flypaper. Really cool!
Sorry, Mr. Aging Hippie: If you can offer a single thoughtful rationale for not at least trying to reduce the mayhem this year, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, to my thinkingk, you’re just on the wrong side of this issue.


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 4:27 pm

The way to reduce the mayhem is to confine it to a single area, such as a portion of the beach. That would actually work. This will not.

Given more time, perhaps for next year, it might be possible to have a sponsored marshmallow festival with food, games, crafts, and a designated area again for the “war”. That would either turn it into a positive, or kill all interest in it entirely. With only 2 days left, the only possible course is to designate an area and cordon it off; the present course of action is going to make things worse, not better.

It isn’t a matter of whether you like or approve of the marshmallow fight or not, it’s an issue of what is possible, and what is impossible. Might as well try to ban fog.


OB Dude July 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Is it possible that when no riot occurs you refrain from comments on the rag for the rest of the year?


Aging Hippie July 1, 2014 at 7:31 pm

If the marshmallow fight does not occur, and no riot occurs, then I will not talk about this topic again. In fact, I will publicly admit that I was wrong.

If the marshmallow fight does occur, and/or there is a riot, I expect all of you, and the OBTC, to publicly admit that they were wrong.


Tyler July 2, 2014 at 6:38 am

I know I’m breaking code by responding to this guy but holy :$;@; that is ridiculous.

NO ONE in favor of the mallow out campaign thinks the fight will cease to exist this year. The point is to strongly not endorse it and spread the word that we are sick of it. Our hopes are that it will die out more and more in the subsequent years. You are completely throwing words in our mouths and changing your own rhetoric by saying you will say “told you so” if any marshmallows are thrown.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 6:48 am

Then why does it say “RIP Marshmallow Wars 1985-2013”?


Tyler July 2, 2014 at 7:06 am

To imply that we are no longer supporting it as a community. Should we put a ? Mark instead? That would be pointless.

Stop being pedantic


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 7:22 am

We never did support it “as a community”. It’s not a sponsored or managed event like the chili cookoff or the christmas parade. OBTC has no ability to control it because it didn’t originate from them and doesn’t require their support or management.

If you want it to “die out” of its own accord, then sponsor it and make it a fair. That’ll either kill it, or produce more revenue. Trying to use force against something that is already an act of rebellion is just going to intensify it.


Tyler July 2, 2014 at 7:30 am

You are being pedantic. I’ve corrected you and you are back into your diatribes. Good day.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 7:32 am

You’ve obviously just learned a new word, but you don’t know what it means.

Tyler July 2, 2014 at 8:49 am

LOL. What a childish response. I used some bigger words so you want to attack me as if I don’t know my own vocabulary? You are being dense. I decided to use a synonym and said you are pedantic. And yes, your endless tirade is a diatribe of epic proportions.

Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

Not by any stretch of the imagination can the term “pedantic” be applied to any part of this conversation. You need to look it up and learn to use it properly.

SaneVoice July 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

C’mon, Tyler. You know better than to engage this contrarian in conversation.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

And out come the personal insults….

SaneVoice July 2, 2014 at 10:32 am

Stating fact isn’t a personal insult

Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 10:35 am

It’s not a fact, it’s a personal insult. Having an opinion different from yours, even a strongly held opinion, does not make me a “contrarian”, or a troll. It just makes me a person who disagrees with you.

Steve July 1, 2014 at 6:01 pm

“Is it possible that when no riot occurs you refrain from comments on the rag for the rest of the year?”

I second this notion. “Fading Flower Child”, what say you?


jim grant July 1, 2014 at 5:29 pm

5 years ago the MM war encroached on the foot of Newport and left a disgusting mess….it was illegal then and nothing was done to stop it it has escalated ever since. I cleaned it alone 5 years ago until Jon Carr came down to help me. Since that time the mess has gotten way out of control. Frankly I gave up 3 years ago , I figured if people who live in OB don’t give a crap why should I ? The edict to stop the MM war’s will not hold water with drunk punks who treat OB like a dump. They will bask in the attention of sticking it to The Man unless 100 SDPD stand guard at the wall it will go on as usual.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

You are correct, the edict will have no effect other than to embarrass the OBTC. And if 100 SDPD stand guard at the wall, it will still go on, but then it will be compounded with violence and more property damage.

It can be stopped, or at least contained or redirected. But not this way. That is what the OB Rag said in its first article on this subject this year, and it’s what I’ve said, but for some reason it was ok for the rag to say it, just not ok for me to agree with it.


nostalgic July 1, 2014 at 6:05 pm
Ob surfer July 1, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Aged hippie ur crazy if you thinks cordoned off area will contain it and people will just follow the rules! Wishful thinking


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 12:06 am

Better compliance than they will get this way, and without the violence they’re going to get this way.


Bearded OBcean July 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

Isn’t it possible that the mm wars amongst fun-loving drunken revelers has already devolved into violence? Or are we locals supposed to laugh like soft mad children at being unwittingly pelted by mm’s should we be within 2 blocks of the beach. For shame on being near the pier with our families during the fireworks, only to have to high tail it out of there.
Wait, so because the seawall and rocks that run along the beach are unable, or maybe unwilling, to corral the harmless children playfully tossing mm’s in merriment, we’re to believe that caution tape will somehow, in some world, keep them confined?


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

A large majority of them would confine their activities to the designated area, yes. Not all of them, no.


Dan Shay July 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

As much as I disagree with Aging Hippie I have to admire his perseverance. He is arguing with like 10 people all at once on here. The event is only 2 days away and we shall soon see who is correct. I am predicting some mms will be thrown, but not as many as last year. I think the SDPD may have a slightly larger presence and will give warnings and maybe arrest “ring leaders” or people that stand out or don’t listen. I think SDPD is skilled enough to not incite or be part of a riot. I thought it was weird in the past when their squad cars were pelted with mms. Maybe they will avoid that this year. I think the tradition will die off more and more year to year. This is the first year where a clear majority has emerged against the war. SDPD was able to enforce the smoking and drinking ban with no issues at all once it was mandated.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm

The really peculiar thing is that I am arguing the exact position that the OB Rag took in its first article: the ban will not work.

You have a lot more confidence in cops than I do. Maybe I’ve seen too many videos of them kicking people on the ground or throwing them against walls or beating them with nightsticks. I predict tear gas grenades will be used, and things worse than marshmallows will be thrown.

The drinking ban is a law, not a “resolution” by a quasi-public agency with no real power. And the smoking ban is not enforced at all, as anyone who’s been near the wall below the pier can tell you.

Clear majority of who? I can find articles back to 2009 railing against the marshmallow fight, and very few people defending it. But they must have still been participating, because it’s gotten bigger and bigger every year.


Johnny July 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm

What is it that people could be arrested for? Littering? Disorderly Conduct? Possession of Marshmallows? I understand the reasoning behind banning it (kind of), but I’m curious to see how this all pans out. I think it will still go off, just not as big as the last couple of years.

It’s kind of a shame that such a bizarre tradition that happens nowhere else in the world (that I know of), is now being banned. I guess I’m still trying to understand the exact reasoning. It it because people became too aggressive? If so, I’ve never seen it, and don’t know anyone who has been seriously injured. Or is it because of the mess it causes? If this is the reason, it’s understandable…but then again, this town is littered with 100’s of thousands of cigarette butts. Should we ban smoking in OB? Either way, my mallow throwing days are over, and hopefully others respect the ban as well.


Aging Hippie July 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

It’s because it is a mess. That’s the real reason, everything else is just excuses.


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