Lions explain reasons for no candy in parade

Editor,
The Vandalia Lions Club has sponsored the Annual Halloween Parade for over 70 years now and the Parade has undergone many changes throughout the years. This parade has been recognized as one of the finer parades in Southern Illinois and band directors from all over the area from as far away as Mascoutah, Mattoon, and Mt. Vernon have complimented the City, the Lions Club, and the people of Vandalia for running and hosting a great parade.
 But, as with all things, sometimes changes need to be made. For several years now the Lions Club along with various law enforcement agencies and the City have stressed that for safety purposes the crowd needs to stay on the sidelines and not disrupt the parade participants. Those warnings and pleas have increasingly gone unheeded and that has brought us to a crossroads.
 The crowds have pushed further and further into the street requiring drivers of vehicles to constantly have to be on guard for children darting into the street to get that last elusive piece of candy. Sadly, some parents actually push their children to run out and retrieve candy and some have created combative situations with crowd control personnel. As has been stressed by the Lions in the past – this is extremely dangerous. Large vehicles such as tractors and large 4 wheel drive trucks simply cannot see immediately in front of their vehicles.
 As of this writing, 2 long-time band participants have informed us they will not be back this year due to crowd issues. Other bands have told us of people throwing candy attempting to land it in the tuba section; of marchers nearly being tripped by children chasing candy; of vulgarities being directed at their majorettes.
Therefore at the Clubs meeting on Sept. 12 the decision was made to not allow candy to be thrown or handed out at the Parade this year. This is not a permanent decision but until things change we cannot continue to allow crowd behavior to put themselves and others in danger. We hope the public understands our position and will still support the parade both with their participation and their attendance as they have in the past. We realize candy has been an important part of past parades. But people seriously need to ask themselves if that piece of hard candy is worth being run over by a moving vehicle or injuring a band member carrying a heavy instrument?   We are hopeful a better solution might be found before the 2017 parade but as for 2016, the Parade will be candy-free.
Vandalia Lions Club
 

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