For years it’s been easy to tell that Independence Day is near in the heart of Carmel, as folding chairs start popping up along the CarmelFest July 4 parade route to reserve spots for their owners.
But lately, some feel the tradition has gotten a bit out of hand, as stakes and tarps have been set out to reserve large spaces and placeholders of all kinds began appearing earlier and earlier. This year the first one was spotted June 22, according to Jeff Worrell, a Carmel City Council member and longtime CarmelFest volunteer.
Worrell said he’s received a great deal of feedback on the issue and feels it’s time for something to be done about it.
“I don’t want to lose the quaintness and tradition that you can put your very nice chairs out there and they’d still be there the next day,” Worrell said. “But now it’s like saying they’ll still be there next week.”
So, Worrell is planning to propose an ordinance that would allow placeholders to be left out beginning at 10:30 a.m. July 2, or 48 hours before the start of the parade. He said having them set out earlier than that can cause problems for businesses owners who are trying to mow and cause difficulties for people with limited mobility.
The proposed ordinance would only allow chairs and blankets to be left out. Worrell said tarps have killed grass and that stakes can cause other problems. This year a stake punctured an irrigation line, he said.
Worrell is hoping to gather public feedback as the ordinance is drafted and discussed. He said it could go before the council in August but that the goal is to have it in place before next summer.
The early placement of chairs has caused some people to say they will no longer attend the parade or assume they won’t be able to find a spot to watch it if they don’t reserve space early, Worrell said. But he added that this isn’t the case.
“There’s plenty of room. You don’t have to reserve a spot,” he said. “We want everyone to be able to come to the parade and be kind and responsible to each other.”
To provide feedback on the proposed ordinance, contact Worrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-471-9836.