My Turn: Common sense, safety key with July 4 parade
July 22, 2013
After reading the front page article "Officials: Truckee parade rules were enforced to ensure safety" from the July 12 paper, we felt compelled to write this letter.
I have been a part of the Truckee Fourth of July parade one way or another since 1985 when the parade chairman at the time, Domonic Mosca, asked me to put together a group of horsemen to do crowd control downtown. The issue was that the spectators downtown were working their way into the middle of Donner Pass Road and narrowing the parade route, creating a dangerous situation. For the next 25 years, my wife and I and many friends provided crowd control for the parade.
I chaired the parade in the mid-nineties for four years after Bruce Turner and before Hartley and Patty Lesser. Water balloons, water spraying and candy throwing were problems then as they are now. One water balloon thrown from a balcony downtown hit a trumpet player's horn (Ophir Prison Marching Band) and broke his front teeth; the band will not return.
It's no longer squirt guns but water blasters that spectators use, standing in the middle of the parade route and dowsing any and all entries that pass by. Our horses have been sprayed with water, water ballooned and socked by spectators, and entries, not to mention having children dive between their legs to get candy.
The use of Silly String by spectators is uncalled for. It can damage the finish on cars and the upholstery. Its also dangerous for the children who run into the street to shoot it at entries. We used to have a Corvette club from Nevada come to the parade with up to 20 classic 'Vettes, but will no longer due to this activity.
During one parade, a young member of the Truckee Donner Junior Horsemen was leading her young horse in the parade, and sprayed water scared the horse, which backed up into the spectators causing a woman to trip in the curb and break her ankle trying to avoid the horse. I quit riding my horse in the parade in 2010 for safety reasons, and my wife Carol in 2011 after her horse was shot in the ear with a water blaster. She stopped to speak to the young spectator and the boy's father said to her, "Lady, it's just a parade. Can't you handle your horse?"
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The entries in the parade are deserving of your respect and admiration, and not the target for water and Silly String. People put hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into classic cars and training their horses and creating their entries and should be admired, not assaulted.
The spraying of water from parade entries encourages spectators to retaliate and is totally uncalled for and creates an unsafe and dangerous situation for entry and spectator alike. This has nothing to do with being "politically correct" and is not an "American tradition." It has to do with the safety of all parade goers and is just common sense.
You don't see anyone in the Rose Parade or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade squirting, throwing at or spraying anyone, or spectators in the middle of the street running around picking up candy thrown from the floats. I'm certainly not comparing our parade to theirs, but the same common sense and safety rules must apply.
I'm sure we can all enjoy the Fourth of July Parade without attacking each other and show some respect for those who go to all the time and effort to create an entry.
Rusty and Carol Pauli are Truckee residents.