A better way to celebrate?

Candy left in the street after a Bay Homecoming Parade. Photo by Denny Wendell

I realize this column will may make me highly unpopular, especially with kids, but I feel I must address it.

I attended the Bay Village Homecoming Parade on Friday, Sept. 20. The Homecoming parade is a celebration of community, and all ages come out to see it. While I enjoy the parade, especially the marching band, I have one major issue with it.

The reason for my column today is how the parade also pollutes our community and Lake Erie because of the candy being thrown at spectators. I personally watched candy go directly down the sewers on the road, which drains right to the lake. And what is candy wrapped in? Plastic.

Furthermore, I witnessed so much candy being thrown that children on the side of the road couldn’t possibly collect it all, and it was being crushed and stepped on and then ignored and left there. In addition to candy, I watched parade participants throw full plastic water bottles at spectators, as well as throw empty plastic candy bags and plastic candy containers out of the car.

When did this behavior become acceptable? Is our culture so accustomed to excess and waste that we do not even blink an eye to blatant waste and litter? It was horrifying to me to witness all of this, and I can’t help but think this is the wrong message all around for kids… waste and excess and litter being essentially celebrated.  

I have come up with a few solutions to this problem, the first being to not pass out candy at all – but I know that is most likely not feasible because it seems candy is expected. My second idea is to ask parade participants to actually hand candy to children, not throw it. Doing so will prevent a lot of waste and litter, plus the likelihood of someone getting hit in the face or eyes with candy is eliminated, making it a safer event as well. My third idea is to ask participants to distribute candy that is packaged in paper (i.e. Nerds, Milk Duds, etc.). If candy packaged in paper gets into the sewer or is accidentally left on the street as litter, it will biodegrade in the lake and not break into millions of tiny plastic pieces that fish will eat. 

I am not trying to be a parade bah-humbug-er, I just wanted to provide another way to view these types of parades with the hope that we as a society might be able to reign in the blatant excess, waste, and litter generated at these events. The excessive candy is not necessary and there are other ways to enjoy parades that provide an example to children that wastefulness and litter are not to be celebrated.

If you have any thoughts or ideas on this matter, please email me at jennifer@bayvillagegreenteam.org.  

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Volume 11, Issue 19, Posted 9:14 AM, 10.01.2019