TRUCKEE, Calif. — The decision to not allow candy-throwing and water-spraying during Truckee’s Fourth of July parade was made for safety reasons, officials said this week.
The last couple years have been “pretty scary” with children playing freely and running to and from floats and fire engines to get candy, said Lynn Saunders, CEO of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, which produced this year’s parade.
“Our first priority is to put on an enjoyable event, but we absolutely have to ensure the safety of the participants and the spectators,” Saunders said. “The kids run into the street after candy, and drivers aren’t always paying attention.”
A few years ago, a young boy, while chasing after candy, was run over by a float and suffered injuries, Saunders said.
That memory, coupled with growing crowds, was enough for officials with the chamber, Truckee Downtown Merchants Association and town of Truckee to agree to enforce the rules.
“This year … we chose to have a much stronger stance,” Saunders said.
Spraying water is hazardous to the crowd and those operating floats and heavy machinery, Saunders said, and it also can damage expensive equipment needed to conduct the holiday event, which saw 12,000 spectators and participants this year.
Town and chamber officials reported dealing with only a handful of complaints regarding the new rules.
One of those concerned residents is Mike Griffin.
For 20 years, Griffin would drive his Renegade Fire Department truck during the parade, spraying water high into the air and handing out candy to children.
The familiar cherry red truck was missing from the procession through downtown last Thursday, however, as Griffin chose not to participate.
“We thought we were kind of a staple of the parade, but as it turns out ... we’re not allowed to do that (spray water and throw candy) anymore,” Griffin said. “The politically correct have destroyed another American tradition.”
Griffin began bringing the truck — bearing the name Renegade Fire Department — from Russell Valley to the Truckee parade in the early 90s.
“It became more and more popular with the kids, and it just kind of became a family tradition,” Griffin said. “We’ve been part of the parade for 20 years, with no incident.”
Griffin said he’s fielded several dozen phone calls and emails in support of his decision to forgo the parade this year.
Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said while he is sympathetic to resident concerns, “it’s all about public safety at the end of the day.”