Smiling and visious.

Watch Out for Those Dangerous Marching Bands


In fdthtiyhkn
Chester County, PA, kids will no longer get the chance to scramble for candy tossed from floats at the annual Halloween parade because suddenly the local tradition is too dangerous.

According to The Daily Local News, Parks & Rec director Keith Kurowski “was fearful that one of about 25 parade floats might injure an unattended child, or a marching band member with a flag or mock rifle might mistakenly strike a youngster.”
Yes, those marching bands are vicious. You see a majorette with a flag? Run! There’s nothing they like better than to “mistakenly” (wink wink) strike a youngster. Happens all the time. Then the tuba plays really loud, so you can’t hear the screams.

American parade routes are littered with small, candy-clutching collateral damage.

As the paper reports:

In the past, participants in the annual Halloween Parade threw candy goodies to children along the route.

This year, the borough will instead set up four distribution stations where candy will be handed out.

“Candy is still going to be distributed on Halloween and for public safety reasons and the safety of our children it will be distributed differently,” Mayor Jordan Norley said. “Nonetheless, our children are going to have more sweets than they can eat.”

But is it possible the mayor got it exactly backwards? He thinks the goal is excess amounts of candy. But it’s likely that the real goal is fun. And fun is scrambling for the stuff. (Or, if you’re in the marching band, whacking children with whatever’s handy.) 
Kurowski says that children have been getting “overly aggressive getting to the freebies.” But from now on, he added:

“They won’t have to struggle with other children who are trying to get the same thing,” Kurowski said. “We prefer to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Kurowski said that typically 1,000 to 1,200 community members directly participate in the parade which is viewed by up to 5,000.

If that is not the definition of a small town holiday parade, I’ll eat my bite-size Three Musketeers (and yours). And yet, nothing is safe enough today, not even a wholesome parade with mock rifles. Or perhaps ESPECIALLY a parade with mock rifles.

And flags.


Strike up the band…and small children, too.

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46 Responses to Watch Out for Those Dangerous Marching Bands

  1. Bella Englebach October 9, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

    Majorettes don’t spin and toss flags, the color guard does! But otherwise, you’re right on.

  2. A mom from MA October 9, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    Our town has been throwing candy at the Memorial Day Parade for longer than anyone can remember. People show up with bags for gosh sake. Parade organizers have spent years trying to stop it. And it’s always the same arguments – kids will run into the street to grab candy and *may* get struck by a float/get hurt. Guess what? Every year it happens w/out fail. Groups just DO it. The same as they do at the Halloween Parade two towns over. Drives the town managers and/or organizers nuts. Also, so you’re clear, this isn’t about safety – it’s about liability. If little John or Joan gets hurt, the parents will sue the parade organizers/the town/anyone else they can. Trust me. I was on the committee for a few years and was in the meetings. Make no mistake that it’s all about the bottom line.

  3. Ruth October 9, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

    Here in in lower Alabama, we have a lot of Mardi Gras parades, the whole point is grabbing stuff thrown off the floats.
    Last Fat Tuesday, during a local parade, members of a marching band were struck by an elderly man driving an SUV in the parade. About a dozen kids were injured, some seriously, so of course it was very upsetting. Now the town is considering canceling future parades although the parade has gone on for years without incident.
    No one would put a parade above the safety of children but this seems unnecessary. The cause of the accident was determined to be an old man driving an unfamiliar vehicle and depressing the accelerator instead of the brake. It seems some screening and common sense might prevent further accidents of this type. The bands work hard it would be a shame to not let them perform.

  4. JTW October 10, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    You’d think they’d go for an all out ban on candy because it ’causes obesity’ and mock rifles as well that ‘glorify gun violence’.
    Combine with the ever increasing ban on flags because those are ‘racist’ and ‘non-inclusive for minorities’ and it’s probably better to just ban parades altogether.

  5. BL October 10, 2017 at 5:12 am #

    Look at all the keys on those flutes and saxophones! Those kids are going to get carpal tunnel playing those!

  6. JTW October 10, 2017 at 6:24 am #

    indeed, and those chin straps can choke them to death if the head falls off!

  7. BMS October 10, 2017 at 7:45 am #

    We actually did have a kid narrowly get missed by a parade float in our town’s 4th of July parade. The person driving the float couldn’t see the kid, who was about 3, and it was only the quick grab by an adult that kept him from getting run over. The next year tossing candy was pretty much forbidden. I don’t particularly care either way, but I do understand where the ban came from. Our cub scouts were allowed to go down the side of the street and hand out candy, (as opposed to throwing it) but we sort of phased that out too, because the boys were eating more than they handed out and the wrappers were EVERYWHERE, LOL.

  8. Emily October 10, 2017 at 7:45 am #

    >>Look at all the keys on those flutes and saxophones! Those kids are going to get carpal tunnel playing those!<<

    That's actually a thing. Overuse injuries were common when I was in university–tendonitis for instrumentalists (mine was in my right wrist, from playing too much clarinet), and vocal strain-related problems for voice majors (seeing singers on vocal rest communicating in pantomime was a common sight).

  9. Thea October 10, 2017 at 8:26 am #

    To be fair though, it really hurts to get hit by a flag or rifle. I would know. 4 years in marching band. It seems to me that the advice should be for parents to keep an eye on their children during the parade. Problem solved.

  10. SanityAnyone? October 10, 2017 at 9:28 am #

    If you want candy that just patiently sits still and lets you eat it, you can go to Rite Aid or lie on the sofa and let grandma spoon feed it to you.

    That said, my son’s friend just suffered a bad concussion from her flag falling on her head and is in the concussion care center, not in school this week. My son who is a smaller ninth grader has to march the backbreaking quads, which is similar to carrying quadruplets. Still, live dangerously – join marching band!

  11. Meg October 10, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    They tried that at our local parade in our small town. It didn’t go over well.

    Within a year or two, the tossing candy was back.

  12. Theresa Hall October 10, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    I didn’t think a parade could move fast enough to hurt even a turtle. They always tossed candy when they were paused at the ones I saw.

  13. Roger the Shrubber October 10, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    I was at a parade where they were throwing candy off the end of floats, directly in the parade route. My 2 year-old son was nearly struck by a parade vehicle when he ran to collect candy. Luckily the passenger in the vehicle noticed as both I and the driver were looking in another direction at the time. I made no issue of it with anyone, but since that year they have only distributed candy along the curb.

    Inviting young kids to mix with vehicular traffic IS a safety issue. If Mom from MA want’s to complain that the parade organizers are only concerned about liability, well, if it takes concern about their pocketbook to motivate them to want to avoid killing some kid in a completely foreseeable situation, I guess that’s OK.

    It’s fine to question the towns method of candy distribution. I think that requiring that candy be distributed only along the curb is a reasonable. Standing in line for candy kind of ruins the atmosphere of a parade. The mayor suggesting that they are trying to avoid conflict between children fighting over candy kind invites criticism of this sort.

  14. Dienne October 10, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    So what are they doing about the marching band threat? Banning those too?

    Incidentally, marching bands don’t have flags or rifles. Difficult to play an instrument and twirl a flag/rifle at the same time. As pointed out above, that would be the color guard.

  15. Jen October 10, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    So, about 10 yeas ago or so, we were in France during the Tour de France. Before the racers come through, there is a big parade of floats, where they throw all sorts of swag at the crowd. Candy, sure, and things like keychains and hats, but also bottled water. Yep. Bottled water, thrown off of floats at the crowd. We were amazed. Couldn’t imagine something like that happening here!

  16. Wendy W October 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    Here in MN every small town has their summer festival with a parade. There are numerous marching bands, as the parades serve as a band competition for the schools. The bands never throw candy, they are too busy doing their thing, and therefore the children are not running into range for flag or rifle contact. Many of the floats are happy to provide candy for the crowds, with accompanying scrambling in the streets for the booty. A few years ago, our town declared “no candy throwing” and blamed the policy on their insurance. They were supposed to hand it directly to the recipient instead. I don’t know if this policy is being ignored or if it was changed, but candy is being thrown, usually in an underhand manner, intended to scatter it in the gutter, not go over the heads of the crowd. Another nearby town had a tradition of float-riders armed with super-soakers cooling off the crowd as they drove by, and that got ended a couple years ago too.

  17. Warren October 10, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    Keep up the good work Lenore. Our flag bearers walk point followed by the band with the rifle bearing cadets bringing up the rear. All one group.

  18. Jennifer Griffin October 10, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    I will agree that some kids get overly zealous in the grabbing of candy and some parents don’t watch. However if most parents are watching and aren’t afraid to step in, every one can still have fun.

  19. John B. October 10, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    Another “one-step-ahead” person strikes again. Little by little, layer by layer, moment by moment, we Americans (Well, not me) are softening our youth.

  20. AmyP October 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    That’s insane. I wonder what these people would think of New Orleans during Mardi Gras season. They throw things much bigger than candy. The kids (and adults!) love it and nobody dies.

  21. Andrea D. October 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    I’m surprised they’re letting them have candy at all considering how bad sugar is for you.

  22. James October 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    I’m going to buck the trend here: I’m against throwing candy/goodies during parades, at least how it’s normally done. I’ve seen a fair number of close calls where kids don’t pay sufficient attention to oncoming traffic, or horses get spooked, or the like; there is a real, and substantial, risk of injury to this. Worse, I’ve seen parents pushing forward to get closer to the candy (because the first one there gets the best pieces, and parents can’t be further than five feet from their children). I’ve seen multiple parades where police had to order people back off the road in order to allow the parade to continue–they were so close that the band couldn’t fit!

    I may be a fuddy-duddy here, but after pulling someone else’s kid out of the way of a horse or truck a few times I’ve developed a dim view of this practice.

    It’s not just me, either. I’ve seen more and more groups have people walking along the parade route handing out candy/goodies, or walking along the edges of the parade and tossing things into the crowd. That’s fine in my opinion–it ensures that the actual parade route is kept clear, so it minimizes the risk of kids getting run over/kicked in the head. There are issues with how they do it (the high school guys handing out candy always seem to hand out more around where the cute girls are than in other areas), but that’s life, and the more rational adults get a chuckle out of it.

    I am 100% against standing in line for candy. The parades where I live draw a crowd that numbers in the thousands. They would need dozens of booths just to handle the crowds, and I’m not patient enough to wait 45 minutes for a bag of cheap candy. I’d rather buy some good candy and spend time with my kids watching the parade. A parade shouldn’t bring to mind the DMV!!

  23. Dee October 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    I’m in New Orleans where throwing things from a float is an institution!

  24. Alanna Mozzer October 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    I marched in a Fourth of July parade with my dog last summer. Who did I think was in the most danger? My dog. Children would leave a lot of candy on the street. I suppose it was the ones they didn’t like or didn’t want. I had to constantly watch my dog to make sure he wasn’t eating the candies with the wrappers still on them.

    This article brought back some memories of my childhood for me. When I was little, about four years old, I used to spend a lot of time playing in my backyard by myself. The high school was right behind our house, and the band would practice by marching right down the alley way between our backyard and the school parking lot. Sometimes I would take my baton and march with them along the edge of our property. I didn’t get hit by any errant flags or anything else. Instead I could see the girls (probably the baton twirlers and color gaurd) in the front of the band smiling. I thought they looked so happy. Now, of course, I realize they were smiling because there was this cute skinny little girl marching along with them.

  25. Marie October 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    “Mom, I’m going over to Billy’s house to see if he wants to play some soccer at the park.”
    “Hold on there, bucko. Get in the car, buckle into your child safety seat and I’ll drive you across town to an approved location where an approved adult will tell you how to play.”

    “Dad, me and my friends are going to hang out at the parade and grab Tootsie Rolls off the street.”
    “Hold on there, bucko. Walk over to that approved gentleman over there, far away from the parade, and he’ll give you your fairly allotted two root beer Dum-Dums.”

  26. Ashleigh Dowden October 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    Oh wow! That’s so …..the opposite of fun! I’m from Louisiana so we all grow up expecting all parades to be like Mardi Gras. It really isn’t a parade without “throws” no matter what the occasion is. Candy, beads, cups, toys, doubloons,…you name it. Of course it *can* be dangerous if a kid gets excited and foolishly runs into the parade route but you know….that doesn’t really happen. The kids learn young how to handle themselves. Now the drunk adults….that’s another story but that’s on them.

  27. R October 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

    I grew up going to parades with candy tossing. Then one year somebody spooked a horse (this parade is out west with a lot of horses) so no more candy throwing, they hand it out along route. At least that was a legit concern.
    Now I live in a town with a candy throwing parade (no horses in this one) and I hope it doesn’t change, I love seeing my kids scramble for it and trade with others.

  28. Joanna October 10, 2017 at 3:55 pm #

    Maybe I was just lucky to grow up in an otherwise NON-progressive small town, but scrambling for candy at parades was **never** a safety or liability issue because it was thrown from the back of a fire truck or the back of whatever float was AT THE END of the parade. Since Main Street was already blocked off to normal vehicular traffic, no chance any of the kids scrambling for candy would be run over by the next float, etc. A couple of dinged foreheads of kids trying to catch candy mid-flight was the extent of parade day “injuries”. Centralized distribution points is just plain WRONG on so many levels!

  29. lollipoplover October 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    I’ve lived in PA all my life and the highlight of the Memorial Day parade we attend every year is when the float for Sen. Greenleaf where they toss little bags of green spearmint leaves out to the crowd.
    The kids say there’s nothing quite like these minty gummies warmed on the hot asphalt…(I think they are up there with the top disgusting candies).

    My daughter played in a soccer tournament this weekend and headed a ball while another player headed her head. We were one of over 10 families at the ER from playing soccer in this tourney. She is fine but needed stitches and most of these other kids broke bones. There are risks to everything for kids….part of playing this game called life.

  30. Dean October 10, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Guess this would rule out piñatas too.

  31. Donald October 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    This is another safety issue that has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with liability.

    The byproduct of this is false information is that it’s labeling another thing in everyday life as dangerous. I compare this to pollution. Each individual bit of pollution by itself is insignificant. One liter of discarded oil dumped on the ground is almost nothing. The world is a big place. It’s so dilute that it’s laughable to suggest that it will make any difference at all!

    That was the attitude 100 years ago. Nowadays, pollution is a major problem. There is another major problem of today and that’s the idea that EVERYTHING is dangerous.

  32. Donald October 10, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    “Of course it *can* be dangerous if a kid gets excited and foolishly runs into the parade route but you know….that doesn’t really happen. The kids learn young how to handle themselves.”

    That’s the issue. If we eliminate all risks then we eliminate the ability for kids to learn how to handle themselves.

  33. Donald October 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    One of the questions regarding the pollution problem is, “What kind of world are we going to leave our children”?

    I would like to ask the same question for the hysteria problem

  34. Theresa Hall October 10, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

    Donald I wouldn’t worry too much much about the future hysteria problem the babies in adults bodies will either become totally helpless or find a way to destroy themselves. It the people that made those idiots possible that have power you got to worry about because some things never change and those in power who can boss others about will do so till time ends.

  35. JTW October 11, 2017 at 5:20 am #

    “Incidentally, marching bands don’t have flags or rifles. Difficult to play an instrument and twirl a flag/rifle at the same time. As pointed out above, that would be the color guard.”

    who are usually part of the same group, wearing the same clothes, and practice with them.

  36. Suzanne Lucas October 11, 2017 at 5:44 am #

    These people would have heart attacks if they came to Switzerland. We have what’s called Chienbäse, which is a fire parade. Huge wagons of fire and people carrying torches go down the street. And the streets are covered in confetti from the parade earlier in the day where candy and confetti and oranges and onions and the ocassional banana are thrown at the crowd. Oh yes, and tons of the people carrying the big fire sticks over the confetti are drunk.

    It’s awesome.

  37. Stacey October 11, 2017 at 7:35 am #

    Don’t tell this to Mobile. Al or New Orleans, LA.
    Mardi Gras will never be the same.

  38. Dienne October 11, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    “who are usually part of the same group, wearing the same clothes, and practice with them”

    Not when I went to school, maybe it’s changed. Our color guard had their own separate uniforms and their own events. They joined us for parades, football games and competitions, but they had their own competitions and performances too. Actually, the flag corps and the rifle corps even had separate events. They didn’t always practice with us, especially early in the season. We were busy learning the music while they were busy learning their routines. It was only later that we put it all together. Marching band was only in the late summer and fall (with a brief appearance at Memorial Day for the parade), while color guard went year round. In fact, color guard members usually got offended if they were referred to as part of the band.

  39. Kirsten October 11, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    “Of course it *can* be dangerous if a kid gets excited and foolishly runs into the parade route but you know….that doesn’t really happen. The kids learn young how to handle themselves.”

    This is the crux. What has changed in forty years? The unpredictability of floats and horses? The law of gravity? The impulsiveness of small children? No, it’s the parenting or lack thereof and the sense of responsibility for one’s one child.

    @Suzanne that sounds fantastic!

  40. Emily October 11, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    Maybe the candy-throwing at parades is a regional thing, but it isn’t done where I’m from (Canada). The main parades I remember growing up, were all Santa Claus parades in November, about a month before Christmas (because, I guess, any closer to Christmas would be getting into actual winter, and it’d be too cold). Anyway, the float participants don’t throw candy at these parades; instead, there’s a post-parade party/reception at City Hall, with hot chocolate, cookies, candy, and “Santa Claus” either mingling around, or holding court with kids taking turns sitting on his lap telling him what they want for Christmas. I think this is a better way to do it, because it promotes community and socializing, rather than pushing and shoving and grabbing.

  41. Roger the Shrubber October 11, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    For those trying to make comparisons to Mardi Gras:

    Spectators are separated from the parade route by barricades.

  42. EB October 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    OK, all you young folks: this candy-throwing thing is not the way things have been done traditionally at parades. For Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, local historical days, and Veterans Day we had parades, but the focus was on the holiday and what it meant, not dashing out for candy. And since that is what I grew up with, and remember from my earlier adulthood, the sight of kids (and adults) running after candy sort of ruins the parade for me. Treats afterward, fine! ice cream, soda pop, hot dogs, candy. But not during the parade.

  43. annie October 11, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    re:flag corps

    In my neck of the woods, the flag corps were band girls that made the squad. most of them played clarinet or flute, but there were several oboe and bassoon players – instruments for concert season, not designed for the marching field. They were band students and they marched with us and rehearsed with us.

    Your mileage may vary, obviously. 🙂

  44. Alexicographer October 11, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

    Another person who grew up with candy-free parades, and I — don’t get it (or like it). I now take my son to the (Christmas) parade in the same town, and candy’s tossed all over the place, and it in no way improves the experience, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know at what point it became true that every event, celebration, or get together had to have (usually pretty poorly made, sugary) treats* in vast quantities, but honestly, it makes them less appealing to me. Can’t we just enjoy each others’ presence and the event itself, without needing to fill our mouths with candy/doughnuts/etc.?

    (*though as I tell my son, if it’s routine and expected, it’s no longer a treat. It’s just a piece of candy. Or 20.)

  45. marie October 12, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Where I am, the color guard includes the flags and rifles. If you haven’t watched a marching band do a show (not just marching in a parade) in a while, things have probably changed quite a bit. In the summer drum & bugle drum corps, the color guard is fabulous. Athletic, artistic, and unbelievably hard-working. Some of those flags are heavy…I think there were a couple of stories above that talked about injuries from the flags.

    Enjoy these samples:

  46. Emily October 12, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

    Another thing about throwing candy during parades–it distracts people from watching the parade, which is a shame, because the people in the parade put time and effort into making their costumes and floats, learning music (bands) and routines (flag/dance/cheer/colour guard teams), and putting the whole parade together in general, that it seems like a shame to miss part of it because you’re scrambling for SweetTarts.