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South Valley Riverton Journal

No candy at parades? Council weighing residents’ safety with candy throwing for Town Days

May 07, 2024 12:01PM ● By Travis Barton

The annual Riverton parade, seen here in 2018, sees thousands line 2700 West. This year the city is considering how to mitigate risk. (File photo City Journals)

Could the Riverton Town Days parade see no more candy tossed from passing floats? 

It’s a question many municipalities are addressing in the wake of the 2022 Kaysville parade that saw an 8-year-old girl die after she was pulled under the tires of her dance team’s trailer. Kaysville eventually implemented a rule that prohibits exchanging items from floats to walking participants. The Utah Local Governments Trust gave guidance to cities earlier this year that says candy should only come from those walking next to the vehicles. 

Now the Riverton City Council is considering its own position. 

Riverton Assistant City Attorney Brett Coombs introduced a possible resolution to the council in early April based on the guidelines from ULGT. 

“The main point to take from this is these are meant to be guidelines and the purpose is to try to prevent harm and/or injuries,” he said. 

Sheryl Garn, events and operations director said this is a hot topic at the moment with her counterparts around the state. Currently the Days of ‘47 parade and Provo’s Freedom Festival don’t allow candy with their larger, professionally made floats. Nearby cities West Jordan, Murray and Sandy all allow candy, while Orem will be placing large cones connected with chains along the road to prevent spectators from entering the street. 

Garn pointed out that walkers passing out candy encourages encroachment from residents, especially young children, so throwing candy from trucks would be safer. She said they require every parade entry to have four spotters around the vehicle with their only job being to keep a watchful eye. 

“We don’t have floats like the professionally built ones for the Days of ‘47, we have a truck with the high school football team,” she said. “Ours has a different feel.”

She also highlighted the parade is so well-attended, there aren’t any gaps in spectatorship. 

Councilmembers discussed how they could keep the parade safe while also maintaining its community feel. None seemed inclined to remove candy from the parade, but were interested in limiting candy distribution to those just in the floats. 

Councilmember Andy Pierucci said the council has “an obligation to weigh the risks and input from professionals and then make a broader policy decision with the community in mind.” 

But the feedback he’s heard from the community is to keep the parade as is with the “value and experience of the parade enhanced by allowing candy and other objects to be thrown from floats.”

“This may sound like a small, dumb issue, but I’ve heard from a lot of people how much they like it,” he said. 

Pierucci added he understands the risks and potential liabilities. He was more in favor of precautionary focus on speed of the floats and preventing people accessing the street during the parade. 

Coombs did not believe they were at risk of losing their insurance by implementing certain guidelines from ULGT. 

Councilmember Spencer Haymond preferred continuing the tradition. While he was interested in everyone’s safety, he said there was also an element of personal responsibility. 

“The injuries can be horrible, I don’t mean to make light of those in any way, shape or form,” he said. “But we can’t pad every sharp edge, we can’t protect every last little thing. People have to be able to live their life. 

“I don’t think we’ve been given authority by citizens to remove their right to throw candy.” 

Part of the Trust’s guidance, as given in a webinar by Jason Watterson, who is a loss prevention consultant with ULGT, is that most accidents happen with people’s interactions with vehicles. Riders step out of the trucks or walkers come up to the vehicle’s window, so they recommended nobody be allowed to leave or enter the float during
the parade. 

As for candy, Watterson acknowledged it’s a big part of parades. 

“The kids love it, they love to have candy thrown out there and they run out and grab it and see who can get the most, well that’s also a situation where we can get dead kids,” he said, adding they aren’t saying no candy, but that it should be limited to
the walkers. 

 Pierucci suggested the city create its own safety mitigation plan to show they are proactively addressing parade safety. While that plan could show the Trust the city prefers its own safety plan even though it’s different, city staff has already tested throwing candy versus handing out candy and found candy throwing to be safer. 

No decision was made in the initial discussion with the council and city staff planning to speak further on the subject. λ