Is it Young Guzzlers Day?
At least one city council member seemed surprised Monday to hear that a large number of Marion businesses were opposed to plans for a street dance the night of Old Settlers Day.
Despite being Marion’s second oldest business — and the event being a day that is supposed to celebrate town history — our business never was consulted when the city polled business owners about the proposal.
Had we been, we would have agreed with the sizeable minority opposed to the plan — but not because it would temporarily reroute Main St. or add to an already busy day.
Old Settlers Day has a long tradition of being a completely non-commercial, family event. No admission is charged. Nothing is offered for sale, not even for charity. Everything is free and for people of all ages.
Those who appreciate the tradition have winced a bit at use of the day to raise money for causes like the police department’s drug-sniffing dog, which also receives a surprisingly large amount of taxpayer support.
But selling beer to pay for a band crosses a line for many traditional Old Settlers supporters. Such an event would seem to fit more properly with Art in the Park just a week earlier or Labor Day, if you don’t mind competing — which Marion definitely should not — with Florence’s annual celebration.
We aren’t opposed to the dance itself. We applaud the efforts of those attempting to expand Old Settlers activities. But we’re tempted to offer a challenge grant that would contribute half the cost of soft drinks to be served for free at the street dance, provided no one attempts to bring any commercial business to the event.
Wanting to maintain a tradition isn’t being old-fashioned and out of touch if the tradition has value. Making sure the entire day is for all ages and not some commercialized come-on to make money, even if it’s for charity, has value, especially given the level of problems caused by reckless consumption of alcohol in our society.
If, as some apparently believe, life in Marion is so dismal that people have to get drunk to have a good time, we have a lot more to worry about than whether to put up a temporary detour on Main St.
— ERIC MEYER