CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The City Council is looking into changing a long-standing Fourth of July tradition: Thousands of people staking out their spots along the Carmelfest parade route weeks in advance.
Council members are trying to stop the problem before it gets any worse.
Council President Jeff Worrell says things really started to get bad about three years ago. During the Independence Day celebrations, much of Rangeline Road is filled with thousands of chairs and tents as people try to reserve their spot so they can see the parade.
“What this amounts to is just one activity just getting out of hand, and we’re just trying to reel it back in,” Worrell said.
Worrell introduced the proposal to City Council on Monday night to try to curb the amount of stuff on the curb ahead of the city’s annual Carmelfest parade. Under the proposal, people could reserve their spots for the Carmelfest parade at 6 a.m. the day before, not weeks in advance.
“This came from not only the public who were really concerned about the look and also a concern that ‘My goodness, if I don’t get my chair out, can I not come to the parade?'” said Worrell.
Worrell said chairs and more lining the street were not just unsightly but caused major issues:
- Irrigation systems have been damaged after people put stakes in the ground to rope off their desired spot.
- Drivers have trouble getting in to businesses.
- The sidewalks lose their handicap accessibility.
- City crews and businesses can’t mow the grass underneath, and the grass itself dies off because people put tarps over it for weeks at a time.
A resident at Monday night’s meeting told News 8 she understand the tradition, but it needs to come with moderation.
“There’s something nice about it, that you can put your stuff out for two weeks and nobody is going to take it, but, at the same time, it starts to look a little rough,” said Carmel resident Julia Saltsgaver.
Worrell said, “There might be some who would think ‘Oh, this is a silly or petty issue.’ But, the way I look at it is we want to make people comfortable, and I think the public really does respond well to having rules. You know what the rules are, great. Everyone plays by the rules; it’s fair.”
The council president said the proposal will go to the land use committee for consideration. The measure likely will be tweaked over the next couple months, and the council will be taking public feedback as the proposal is considered.
The council hopes to have a new ordinance in advance of July 4.