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Editorial: A blemish on an otherwise beautiful parade

| March 25, 2021 12:25 AM

After a year of isolation, Ronan offered up a refreshing, well attended public event last Wednesday evening with its St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The weather was gorgeous. The floats were fun and creative. The crowd was jovial and appreciative. There were kids on floats and kids on horses, others walking dogs or waving from the sidewalks. Kids in classic cars.

It was a terrific scene, with one glaring exception.

The parade’s lone political entry, thankfully near the end of the procession, carried an angry and vulgar message that had no place at such an event with so many children in attendance. It was a real-life version of internet trolling, a middle finger extended to everyone, with no intent other than to provoke.

Soon after, expressions of outrage began to pop up on social media. A few defenders of the offensive entry attempted to distill the controversy down to merely an example of freedom of speech, completely disregarding any sense of decency or community respect.

The Ronan Area Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying that while they had promoted the event, the chamber was not a sponsor and did not “support or condone negative political advertising at any event.”

The Ronan Fire Department made it clear that the generic fire department flag on the political float, which directly preceded the department’s vehicles during the parade, was not a local flag and the department “is a non-political organization and had no involvement with the parade float.”

A member of the Ronan Irish Community — a group of volunteers who organized the event — explained that no one within the group supported the float and they were just as angry about the distasteful distraction as everyone else. There simply were not enough volunteers to monitor each entry, and no one thought that would be necessary.

Many have been asking how this could happen and are looking for someone among the local government, the business community or the event’s sponsors to blame. That ire should be reserved exclusively for the individuals who thought the political entry was in any way appropriate. There can’t be very many examples, if any, of entries being turned away at past parades within any of our local communities. Policing entries shouldn’t be a requirement.

These folks likely knew they were crossing a line and didn’t care. It was selfish and entirely disrespectful. We can’t help but wonder whether that middle finger also was being waved at the members of the Mission Valley Honor Guard, veterans and community elders who led the evening’s procession. There’s no justification for such behavior.

All negativity aside, it really was a fantastic event on a beautiful evening. The sponsors should be proud of the best of it and strive for more of the same in the future.

And in an age when we’re all constantly bombarded by national political outrage, it would be nice to be able to attend a parade, a county fair, a rodeo, etc., without the political backdrop. Can we have a few hours without the politics once in a while?

And if that’s simply not possible, we offer two pieces of advice to make such displays more palatable — consider keeping it local, and try harder to be for something rather than always angrily against.

— Editor Scot Heisel