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Festival board will reconsider handing out candies at curb during festivities in years to come

FILE PHOTO - Children scramble onto Pioneer Boulevard to pick up candy thrown during the 2017 Sandy Mountain Festival Parade. A new provision of the Oregon Department of Transportation street-closure permit will prohibit candy from being thrown during the parade. The provision does not prohibit handing out candy.In response to a complaint from a 2016 Sandy Mountain Festival Parade participant, the Oregon Department of Transportation will no longer allow candy to be thrown during parades.

This provision prohibits throwing candy from parade floats, but not handing it out.

"It is not disallowing candy from the festivities," ODOT District 2C - Permit Specialist Marlene Nichols assured in an email. "It is disallowing 'throwing candy' from floats and other vehicles/animals/participants in the parade. Participants can hand candy out to the children along the parade route, but not encourage children to run out into the street to pick up the candy."

This provision came about after a Sandy citizen, William Leslie, a participant in the 2017 event, expressed a concern for young parade goer's safety to the department via a letter on Aug. 29.

"I drove a vehicle in the 2017 Sandy Mountain Festival Parade," Leslie said in his letter. "The vehicle in front of me ... failed to operate within the guidelines of the parade. This created an unsafe condition. I would not again enter my vehicle in the parade if candy is permitted to be thrown."

He went on to ask for a change to the permissions granted for the parade, citing a July 15 incident in Baker City in which a 7-year-old boy died after falling from a parade float.

"I encourage you to not permit road closure if candy is to be thrown from vehicles," he added. "A few weeks ago, Dylan Thomas was killed in Baker City during a parade. I would hate to have such an event be part of Sandy, Oregon's history."

Leslie has since expressed to The Post his approval of ODOT's decision to allow candy to be handed out along the route.

"It's a real issue," he said. "I love kids and I want them to be safe. I (also) love the parade and putting my vehicle in. I think it's probably a great plan."

However, the Sandy Mountain Festival has a long-established policy of not allowing items to be handed out during the parade, an effort to control the distribution of advertising and political campaign materials.

"The festival board will need to discuss this policy before next year's parade," said Steve Brown, parade chairman. "We'll need a policy revision in order to allow the handing out of candy."

In 2015, the festival board lifted its ban on throwing candy at the request of participants, who testified that prohibiting it took away a significant amount of "the fun" from entrants and spectators alike.

While the tradition of throwing candy returned to the parade, it came with a new set of rules, which were ignored by some parade participants..

"I'm not surprised that someone complained," Brown said. "It was just a matter of time."

The rules stipulated that if a participant was going to throw candy, they would also provide walkers on both sides of their entry to serve as safety monitors, keeping children away from moving vehicles.

"Some entrants never provided those walkers, which meant there was no buffer between children who were scrambling for candy and the moving parade entry," Brown said. "Had the rules been followed, we might not be in this situation today."

Brown said he'll take the question of handing out candy during the parade to the next meeting of the festival board.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Steve Brown is the editor/publisher of The Sandy Post.

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