Out of step: 'Too-early birds' banned from reserving Fairfield parade spots
Published 8:30 pm, Wednesday, March 9, 2011
If you leave 'em, you'll lose 'em.
Fairfield's Police Commission on Wednesday endorsed a proposal by the Memorial Day Parade Committee to ban spectators from staking out spots with roped-off chairs, blankets and tarps along the parade route more than 24 hours before the parade.
"This is a fantastic event," said Thomas Quinn, the chairman of the parade committee. "We'd like to make sure we keep it that way."
While putting out chairs and blankets a day or two before the parade route along the Post and Old Post roads has long been a local tradition, last year people began staking out their spots an entire week before Memorial Day.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara said First Selectman Kenneth Flatto agreed with imposing some sort of restrictions on the "reservation policy."
Some commission members, however, seemed confused about the details of what would be prohibited under the new policy.
MacNamara said the ban would apply to the town-owned strip of grass between the curb and sidewalk, where chairs, blankets and tarps have been set in place in advance of the parade. If people who live along the parade route want to put out chairs and blankets on their own property a week or more in advance, they are free to do so.
Police Lt. Josh Zabin explained the department has the authority now to collect any items left on the side of the road as abandoned property. He said officials anticipate putting signs up in advance of the parade to warn people that anything left on the town's right-of-way property will be collected by the Department of Public Works if it is left there 24 hours before the parade.
Commissioner Thomas Dubrosky said he thinks people should be given a break the first year the policy takes effect and issued a warning instead, but Chairman Arthur Hersch said that if enforcement of the new policy is "wishy-washy, they might as well do nothing."
He said suggestions that the policy on advance parade stakeouts be forwarded to the Representative Town Meeting to enact the rules as an ordinance would turn it into a circus. "Either we're going to do something and hold to it, or we're not going to do it," he said.
One commissioner voted against the new policy. "I'm thoroughly against that," Sidney Postol said of the proposal.
"We received many complaints last year," MacNamara said. "This is a problem and it's on town property."
Quinn said while people may have been staking out parade-viewing sites for years, but "they haven't been doing it seven days ahead."