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Candy toss banned at parade

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Date published: 12/4/2009


When they're flying through the air from a tinsel-strewn float, Tootsie Rolls can seem to a small child like a magical gift from Santa Claus.

But the next morning, when they're squashed and frozen into sidewalk cracks, the allure fades.

Last year, city public works crews were scraping Tootsie Rolls and other discarded treats off the streets of downtown Fredericksburg for more than a week after the annual Fredericksburg Jaycees Christmas Parade.

That's why, this year, the city and the Jaycees have asked participants not to throw candy from floats.

Fredericksburg isn't the first place to wrestle with the weighty question of whether flying treats should be allowed at a holiday parade.

A parade this Saturday in the city of Lakeland, Tenn., will include a candy-throwing ban, after the city's insurer demanded it, saying the practice posed too many risks.

In 2006, an 8-year-old girl was run over and killed after she ran out in front of an 18-wheeler to try to grab a piece of candy that had been thrown during the University of Alabama's homecoming parade.

"It's a litter issue and a safety issue," said city Public Works Director Doug Fawcett.

At holiday parades this weekend in Spotsylvania and Louisa counties, participants are asked not to throw candy or trinkets from floats for safety reasons, but they are permitted to hand candy directly to visitors if they are walking on the street.

Fawcett said various city departments and the Jaycees started talking about the parade rules after last year's event, which Fawcett said left the downtown streets much dirtier than previous years' parades.

The biggest problem, Fawcett said, seemed to be that at least one float tossed ice cream sandwiches into the crowd.

The weather was so cold that most people took only a bite or two from the icy treats before tossing them to the sidewalk.

"When the parade was over, we had ice cream and wrappers and ice cream still in wrappers stuck to the pavement," he said.

And because temperatures stayed below freezing for several days after the parade, the mess stuck around for a while before it was warm enough to use high-pressure hoses to blast it off the sidewalks.

In addition to the candy-throwing ban, the city's Clean & Green Commission is launching a volunteer effort to hold down the level of litter parade-goers leave behind.

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Fredericksburg's public works crews typically work until midnight or later picking up after the thousands of visitors who attend the Fredericksburg Jaycees' Christmas Parade. Here are a few ways to cut down on the mess:

Volunteer to walk the parade route before and after the parade with Fredericksburg's Clean & Green Commission. Volunteers should show up at 4:45 p.m. at the city visitors center.

Say no to silly string. Downtown merchants complain that it stains their buildings, and public works officials say it is difficult to clean because it sticks to surfaces.

If you bring dinner with you, don't leave your empty containers behind. Take them with you if you can't get to a trash can amid the crowds.