OB Marshmallow War 2014 – a Shadow of Its Former Self

by on July 5, 2014 · 49 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB July 4 2014 road

A few marshmallows dot the roadway at Newport and Abbott. (All photos – except one – were taken by Frank Gormlie)

The Marshmallow War in Ocean Beach last night, July 4th, was less than a third of what it was in 2013. Way less marshmallows were thrown, the throwing did not get out of hand, and by 9:50 it was over and there was hardly a marshmallow in the streets down around Newport and Abbott. It indeed, was but a shadow of its former self – and that was a good thing. No violence. No riot.

Compared to last year, there were no marshmallows thrown before the fireworks, none thrown during the fireworks, and after the explosions and light show, it took a few moments before the first white globs were seen in the air.

Police were fairly low-key, although their presence was known – they had set up a command post in and around the trailer in the OB Pier parking lot.  At least two arrests were made – one was related to the marshmallow throwing.

OB July 4 2014 MW1

Woman being arrest for being over-zealous in retaliation against a teenager who threw a marshmallow at her. (Photo by Matthew Wood)

The OB Rag had several observers present at last night’s revelry – including this reporter – in order to monitor what exactly happened when the fireworks ended – to see if the marshmallow ban held or not.  For most of the time, I stood close to the intersection of Newport Avenue and Abbott Street with camera and notebook in hand (most of my photos didn’t come out for the bad lighting).

Matt Wood was close by as were a couple of other observers. One – Daniel H – sent us multiple tweets of his observations which Patty back at the office re-tweeted last night.

I took my position before the fireworks went off. The crowd had gathered – yet two hand-made signs strapped to flag poles and illuminated with their own lights announced “No Marshmallows” and “Littering is illegal”.  Half of the last block of Newport had been blocked off by police as well as the south end of Abbott.

Once in a while a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” would break out briefly.  An Uncle Sam on stilts strolled by. People were streaming in from all over.

Over to the side, right near the OB Hotel, a 3-member band from Alpine called “Hello From Montawk” was trying to play.  Another reporter, J.C. Playford, came up to me and told me the OB Marshmallow Wars were famous all over the world, in Europe and England.

Upstairs in the Wonderland bar, the crowd burst out in the national anthem.  Then the fireworks began – and the explosions.  The first loud boom elicited expectant cries of joy from the watchers.  A grown man next to me “That’s what I want – I want explosions!”

OB July 4 2014 crowdAt this point, the beach was packed.  The cement sidewalks were packed.  The grassy areas were packed.  A small crowd stood in the street on Newport watching the lights and sounds.

OB July 4 2014 crowdstreet

But this is not a report on the fireworks – they were great as usual ….

OB July 4 2014 firewks

A couple with a dog stood next to me.  She used to live in OB but now they live in Ramona. They couldn’t wait for the marshmallow shindig to begin. I asked her about the marshmallows.  She said “It’s a tradition. Like turkey on Thanksgiving.” They both later threw a couple of the blobs taken from the street. Ironically, the couple was staying in the OB Hotel.  Minutes later, I watched as the hotel manager, Steve Grosch went by with a bag busily picking up marshmallows.

Sure, marshmallows were thrown, but not too many reached the street.  Other observers said that the beach was filled with them.  But a person who showed up to clean this morning – Sat. the 5th – said there weren’t any in the streets – unlike last year.

All our observers concurred – much more tame than 2013.

Grosch was part of a team of OBceans going after the white stuff that included Pat James of the OB Historical Society, Gretchen  and Trudy from the OB Town Council. To a person, they all said that it was much more mellow than before, like maybe only 20% of last year’s over-the -top event.

OB July 4 2014 team

Trudy of OBTC, Mel of Woman’s Club, Pat of OB Historical Society, and Stephanie.

One arrest was made of a woman when she jumped on a teen male after he had thrown a marshmallow at her. She had grabbed him in a headlock and was punching him. She was taken away to applause from the nearby crowd.

Near the end of the evening event, as crowds were leaving the beach in troves, a woman started throwing sand on homeless people and calling them names.  Another woman jumped up and confronted her.  The first woman began attacking her, pulling some of her hair out.  A third woman joined the fray as did another, both trying to pull the assailant off the person who had tried to stop her from dissing the homeless.

OB July 4 2014 compostAll 4 were taken to the police command post to get the stories straightened out. The police released the woman who confronted the assailant – and I spoke to her. Kayla Ziogas had stood up for the homeless, and no, she’s not homeless. She’s been in OB for 2 years and a had a group of friends who all hugged her and her friend Erin who had come to her rescue.

As I said earlier, the marshmallows were over by 9:50pm and the beach and street were clearing out.

The Town Council’s attempt to ban the tradition that had gotten out of hand was 80% successful – if you want to put a number on it.

The marshmallow controversy is over – for the time being – the clean-up that followed was much more “mallow” than past years.

On to the rest of the summer – and on to the rest of OB’s controversies. …..

Here’s a video of July 4, 2014 in OB by MrVloggerfrog:


Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:23 am

It still happened. And in addition there were fights and arrests. There was less mess in the streets, but that’s because there were people picking up the marshmallows before anyone could step on them.

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

Aging Hippie – We have to call you on your pledge to offer a public apology or at least an acknowledgement that there was no riot or violence as you predicted. So please – step forward and do it.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:40 am

Why? I was right. The marshmallow fight did not end, and there were fights and arrests.

I will admit that my predictions may have been hyperbolic, but they were still correct. You did not, and cannot, end the marshmallow fight, and you did add negative consequences.

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:25 am

C’mon Aggie Hippie – be a hippie – I agree with most of your comments, but you did tell everyone that if there was no riot on July 4th you would make at least a public acknowledgement that you were wrong. Shall I copy in your quote? Be a good sport – maintain your credibility here.

Ok, I see that you did already (see comment below). Thank you.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

Now where is your apology for changing the editorial stance of the OB Rag for no other reason than that I agreed with it in principle?

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

The OB Rag never changed our position. We were first critical a year ago of the OBTC resolution because it was not based on community consensus and because it appeared that they were going to pressure the police to stop the throwing. That turned out not to be the case. Fear of any violence or riot totally dissipated. We like just about everyone else were tired of what happened last year and something needed to change. Even thought they didn’t have jurisdiction, except a moral one, the OB Town Council stepped up and took some responsibility – as no other group would.

And it worked. The craziness that had spoiled a tradition was gone last night, much of it confined to the sand.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

It did not dissipate, you unilaterally declared it dissipated. And although there was not a full scale riot, there also was not a stop to the marshmallow fight. And you did change your position, your first article said this is not the right way to approach this, then in a later article you flip flopped to “we support this”. And it did not “work”. The stated goal “RIP OB Marshmallow Wars 1985-2013” DID NOT HAPPEN. There was still a marshmallow war in 2014.

I guess it’s some consolation that I’ve turned out to be the bigger man in this, willing to apologize where I was wrong when others will not.

Tyler July 5, 2014 at 11:52 am

We’ve said it multiple times. NO ONE thought it would end 100% in one year.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:53 am

No, you did not. You and the OBTC PUBLICLY CLAIMED that it would not happen.

“RIP OB Marshmallow Wars 1985-2013”.

You were wrong. Waiting for your apology. Not reposting mine a third time.

Tyler July 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

I’m not getting drawn into this. You are twisting the words of a slogan. Not one of us ever said it would end 100%. NOT ONE. Please keep grasping at straws like a petulant 6 year old.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

Totally unable to admit you were wrong, while accusing me after I did. Who is the petulant 6 year old in this situation?

Tyler July 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm

You did half-apologize if you want to call it that. Well done. I have nothing to apologize for. If anything I apologize to everyone else having to listen to me getting worked up over your insane thoughts and behavior regarding this campaign. I don’t disagree with everything you post but your manner of conveying it often makes me want to pull my hair out.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

You do have something to apologize for. You stood with everyone else in claiming that the OBTC would totally stop the marshmallow fight using police and volunteer sunderkommandos, and that there would be no negative consequences whatsoever. That didn’t happen.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:42 am

And now I call on you to admit that you changed the editorial stance of the OB Rag on this issue, whether because of simple hypocrisy or yielding to pressure from members of the OBTC or Mike James.

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

We always yield to pressure from Mike James, cuz he buys us good beer.

Mike James July 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

That’s right Frank, if you want to see me buy you a beer at Pizza Port again you’ll do what I say.

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 12:04 pm

We’d yield to the OBTC if they simply upgraded the beer they provide before each meeting.

Jon July 5, 2014 at 10:46 am

Yeah right Frank. Aging Hippie is already grasping at straws, desperate for a way to say “I told you so” like a spoiled 5 year old. I would rather we don’t even acknowledge this poster and their sour-grapes attitude, and instead celebrate what was a beautiful day, and a huge success. Surfrider picked up 1800 pounds of trash last year. This year they were shocked at the difference. They might have 300 pounds when all is said and done. Still not great…cigarette butts everywhere. But we didn’t expect perfection…

Next year I want to see the beach areas have a contest. PB, MB, OB, IB. Whoever has the least amount of trash picked up wins! What should they win??

Cc July 5, 2014 at 10:38 am

Oh man the riots the humanity!!!!!!!! Is ob still burning? There are always fights, and always arrests on the 4th of July.

Johnny July 5, 2014 at 10:48 am

I think the marshmallow fight went off very well last night. While I think a complete ban is ridiculous, as it takes away such a bizarre event that a lot of people young and old enjoy, it definitely needed to be reduced in size. Marshmallows still flew, but for the most part it was kept mostly on the beach. Before the fireworks, I saw some teenage kids ripping down the “Mallow Out” signs, but besides that, it seemed to be all under control. Personally, I’m glad the mallows were still flying and I’m also glad that it didn’t completely flood over into the streets. I think both sides won last night!

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

It was improved by confining it to the beach. Also, volunteers were picking up marshmallows before anyone could step on them.

As I said, it was not possible to just end the marshmallow wars. And as I said, adding police pressure increased the violence and other negative consequences.

I admit that my predictions were hyperbolic. But the main points were still correct. I publicly apologize for any exaggeration, but not for the central claim, which was correct.

I’ll now wait for Frank’s apology for compromising his journalistic ethics, and the OBTC apology for the arrogant claim “RIP OB Marshmallow War 1985-2013”.

Johnny July 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

I think the “Marshallow Wars” turned into a “Marshmallow Fight.” Much better!

Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

Here is what Aggie Hippie said on July 1: [Referring to the ban:] “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”.”

Later you said: “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?”

Mike James July 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

Just a reminder of Aging Hippie’s “hyperbolic” statements over the past month:

” I predict tear gas grenades will be used”

“If you thought the damage from marshmallows was bad, wait until you see the damage from a riot.”

“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.”

“Hope there are also ambulances on standby for all the injuries. ”

“This year, there will be rock and bottle throwing, fires, overturned vehicles, mass arrests, tear gas, fire hoses, attack dogs, and looting.”

” instead of a marshmallow fight, we will now have a marshmallow fight + a riot, including broken glass, fires, looting, mass arrests, fire hoses, rubber bullets, tear gas…”

“Avoid the area. Tear gas, firehoses, and rubber bullets do not differentiate between those who are throwing marshmallows and those who are not. Broken glass, fires, and overturned vehicles are not fun to walk through either.”

“I will be there on the 5th to tell you all “I told you so”.”

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

As I said previously, the statements were hyperbolic. I publicly apologize for exaggerating, but not for my central premise, which was and is correct: the OBTC could not ban the marshmallow war, and adding police made the situation worse, not better.

Seth July 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Same dude doesn’t think drugs get dealt on the seawall or under the pier.

Susie July 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Lets not forget….. July 16, 1995. Danny Lee White shot David Wilkins in the back of head at the sea wall at Del Monte street, left him for dead, took his cash & he died the next day. We have murders at the beach too. Very sad . Look it up. We see a lot of drug things every day if we just look out the windows or car doors.
People need to grow up & get over marshmallows.
Do something constructive. Be good citizens. Help someone instead of childish
behavior. OB could be even greater without the thugs of which there are too many in OB. OB doesn’t have to be the armpit of all the beaches.
People need to get more involved & stop letting the goons attempt to take over. Police can’t do it all. Get real & grow up.

Eric July 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

Less mess, more aggression. Before the start of throwing of marshmallows a drunken 40+ yr old child decided he should use intimidation and threats to discourage marshmallow throwing. Picking a person at random he came up screaming about the harm of marshmallows and to get to get out of HIS town. People stepped in, including his mother, before he started throwing punches and was taken home while screaming about going back to prison. Stay Classy.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

News says there were “several” arrests, not two.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Wonder if that was Tyler.

Tyler July 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm


Heather July 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I understand that the Town Council felt that they had to be very aggressive to accomplish their task…whether or not I agreed with the task is not the point. What they failed to do was encourage both sides to calm down and use logic. The aggression mentioned above could have been prevented if the Town Council was more focused on making a positive difference and less focused on “winning”.

Gretchen Kinney Newsom July 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

Heather – Actually, our campaign did focus on getting people to calm down and use logic. Our campaign was called “Mallow Out” and we actively encouraged people to mellow out, and “make s’mores, not wars.” Additionally, we had a ‘Peace Patrol’ of community volunteers that went person-to-person along the beach before the fireworks to peacefully and calmly ask people to mallow out and trade their marshmallows for prizes. We actively took steps to avoid aggressive, intimidating behavior, instead getting the message out in a positive and calm manner. I’m open to what other suggestions you have, but one drunk guy does not equate to a failure.

Aging Hippie July 7, 2014 at 7:35 am

“RIP OB Marshmallow Wars 1985-2013”.


Ob surfer July 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Impressive result. My hats off to everyone’s hard work and most if all to ones rand who allowed out ;)

Ob surfer July 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm


obecean July 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Who is this guy called “Aging Hippie” ? His strategy of ‘fanning the flames’ on these pages failed miserably…. time to put down the glass pipe ol’ fella!

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Who is this guy called “obecean”? His strategy of falsely accusing others and implying they’re drug addicts is failing miserably…time to put down the oxycodone ol’ fella!

I.b.long July 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

It’s a wonder the Aging Hippy could officially be any more irrelevant than he already was. Congrats on setting the bar lower than anyone ever thought possible.

Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Still, you’ve managed to go even lower.

J.Stone July 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

MrVloggerfrog, needs to get camera that has auto focus , and stop moving so much. It gave me a headache????

John July 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Great coverage, Frank. With this I think you’ve established the OBRag as the premier online local news and information source for the community.
Keep up the good work.

Aging Hippie July 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

I suggest that now would be a good time to start planning the 2015 OB Marshmallow Festival, by contacting Kraft for sponsorship, contacting local food, craft, and game vendors, and considering moving the chili cookoff to a more appropriate time of year…

Susie July 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Stop…..Stirring the pot & poisoning the waters.
Your posts read as if you need to either grow up, get a job or get a new life.
So sorry you feel the need to perpetuate Drama.
Go out. & walk, join the Y, ride a bike. Get off the internet!

Aging Hippie July 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

So a positive suggestion is “stirring the pot” and “poisoning the waters”? You really love cliches, don’t you, even when they’re not appropriate.

I would point out that you also are on the internet, rather than walking or bike riding, and that your post contains drama, while the one you were responding to did not.

John July 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

You seem to be forgetting that the chili cookoff funds the fireworks and its the fireworks that draw the people to the marshmallow fight.
Not the other way around.
I know all this seems funny to you but I can assure you there was nothing amusing about the gooey mess up and down the streets in years past.
Another problem not discussed is how many marine fowl became sickened or even died as a result of eating that junk. It’s not good for their system but they pick it up in droves.
As for Kraft I’m pretty sure once they saw the mess left and the bitter controversy they wouldn’t be proud to have a role in it other than unintentional.
If there’s any reason to agree with your position it’s the troubling nature of restricting peoples’ activities because it’s too much work to clean up, or too hard to control, and our lives would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal with all the damn people that come here.
This is the attitude that spawned Prop. D and IMO that has done great harm to our local economy in ways people just can’t comprehend. When you see a pothole in the street or a streetlight that’s burned out, or class sizes increasing in schools, well thank Prop. D. That includes those of you with children who voted for it.
If we want to chase people away and turn OB into a ghost town well we can do that but since tourism is San Diego’s biggest industry I hope you like a bowl of dirt for lunch.

Aging Hippie July 7, 2014 at 8:07 am

And the chili cookoff couldn’t generate that money if it were held during the winter when people actually eat chili?

I have not seen anything, not even skunks, eat marshmallows. Ants are the only animals that will touch them. In addition, if they haven’t been stepped on they’re quite easy to dispose of – as demonstrated at this year’s marshmallow war (which supposedly wasn’t going to happen).

You miss the point. Sponsoring and organizing the event would change its nature. The fight would become a minor sideshow in an event featuring marshmallow-themed food, marshmallow-themed crafts, and marshmallow-themed games that would actually generate revenue.

Is prop D a sales tax increase? I’ve never heard of it. But I think the solution to the pothole/streetlight issue is to base vehicle registration cost on weight, not value, and the solution to increasing class sizes is to halt vouchers and equalize the per student expenditure in all districts statewide.

Odd that you bitterly oppose the marshmallow fight, yet in the next breath you fear the loss of tourism. I watched Fort Lauderdale kill its tourism by imposing order through force; same thing can easily happen here.

Aging Hippie July 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

“We just respectfully believe it could be handled a different way.”

– Frank Gormlie, June 4, 2014

SaneVoice July 7, 2014 at 8:49 am

Nice try, Aging Dippy. Suddenly, your dire predictions of police smashing people in the face with billy clubs and OB being set on fire are hyperbole. Nope, you were just totally wrong. Any value from your ideas or opinions no longer holds water as everyone on here can see your true colors. You’re nothing but a contrarian who can’t even admit when you’re absolutely wrong.

Kudos to Frank and the OBTC for doing a great job discouraging the marshmallow war. Proud to have such good leadership in the OB. Now on to keeping the OB Precise Plan in force.

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