I received overwhelming support following last week’s column, wherein I chided the Colony Days Committee for what appears to be an arbitrary method of deciding who gets to participate in the annual parade.
Generally, I hear nothing following my weekly column.
So to get 20 responses in the way of emails and telephone calls was a whopping response.
One friend who did disagree with the column said that he saw the parade and that the Tea Party float did not promote any particular political position. I felt it did.
Community activist David Broadwater sought an explanation from Colony Days Committee Chairman Steve Martin as to the criteria used in allowing some entries into the parade while rejecting others, and clarification as to what guidelines are used to determine if a parade entry would change the “character or spirit of the celebration.”
Martin provided these guidelines to Broadwater and me as the definitive rules of the committee regarding parade and park entries and booths: “All activities of Colony Days shall be screened and approved by the board of directors and general committee. A limited number of informational booths sponsored by local civic and nonprofit organizations may be allowed. Nothing of a controversial nature is permitted. No distribution of leaflets is allowed in the park except in approved informational booths. The committee reserves the sole right to refuse approval to any informational, food, game, alcohol, art, handicraft booth or activity deemed unsuitable or that would tend to change the character or spirit of the celebration. And the committee shall not allow anything which will detract from the real purpose of the celebration.”
Other information deals with no sale of items along the parade route, no distribution of leaflets and that food booths must comply with county health department guidelines.
As I said last week, I have no problem with the Colony Days Committee establishing a set of guidelines for parade and booth entries.
But a quick read of the official criteria makes it clear that one group of community volunteers and activists (in this case, the Colony Days governing board of directors) is able to decide whether another group of individuals with special interests or causes gets to be in the parade or even have an informational booth in the Sunken Gardens after the parade.
The arbitrariness of that determination is the evil here, and one that must be watched carefully by those of us who could be disenfranchised at the whim of less than a dozen of our fellow citizens.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. His column appears here every week. He can be reached at 466-8529 or email@example.com.