Safety first: Don't throw candy

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By Jim Clark

Elsewhere in today's paper you'll find a cautionary note from the city, urging parents to protect their children at the parade. Children often run out into the street to get their hands on thrown candy.

I have a better idea - don't throw candy at all.

During recent parades, it was noted that some organizations have people walk alongside the floats and give away the candy rather than throw it. That's the way it should be done, but only by adults, for reasons you will read below.

Throwing the candy can lead to all sorts of problems. The worst, of course, is that a small child gets struck by a float or a horse while darting into the street. There is also the problem of the bigger children out-muscling the smaller youths to get to the candy. This bullying can lead to unhappiness in the younger set.

Plant City, here in Florida, has banned the total distribution of candy and beads at parades after a 9-year-old boy was killed in the Christmas parade last year. He was walking along the route distributing candy, went to the float to reach for more and was struck and died. The city was critical of the organization for allowing someone that young to walk alongside the float. That's why it should be only adults who give out the candy.

One of the daily newspapers in our group, the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, reports that the communities of Norfolk and Chesapeake stopped the candy-throwing at recent Christmas parades.

In Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, candy throwing at a parade is banned.

Holly Springs, N.C., banned candy-throwing at its parade last Christmas.

Various communities in and around Cincinnati have banned candy-throwing.

In other words, this isn't a radical idea. It's a safety concern.

I'm not sure how this candy stuff started, anyway. I can't remember as a child anyone throwing candy at a parade. Actually, I wasn't often a spectator. My biggest decision for the Memorial Day parade was whether to march with my baseball team in uniform or my Cub Scout Pack in uniform. Baseball usually won, and it was most colorful with hundreds of boys marching in the parade in bright hats, adding a lot of color to the event (but in those days, all the uniforms were white or gray).

But we were usually right behind the high school band which led the parade, so then we got to watch the rest, and I don't recall ever fighting for candy.

This upcoming parade, honoring Independence Day, should be full of meaning. It can be a teaching tool for the young, letting them see how we value our independence. It's hard to study those values, though, when you're fighting your neighbor for a piece of candy lying on the asphalt.

So let's just give out the candy and forget the throwing. That child's life you save might be someone you know.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.