Champions of a quirky tradition presented a petition to Canonsburg Borough Council at its meeting Monday calling for a compromise to last month’s decision to restrict placing chairs on the sidewalk in the days leading up to the popular Independence Day parade.
Nearly 250 supporters signed the petition, which asked council to revise its restrictions by allowing chairs to be placed either 24 or 48 hours prior to the start of the parade.
This summer, chairs were popping up as early as June 22. However, under the new restrictions, parade enthusiasts will have to wait until 6 a.m. the day of the event, which drew an estimated 50,000 people this year, to save a prime spot along Pike Street.
Practices such as chaining chairs together and sectioning off entire blocks with caution tape were said to be among the safety concerns that prompted council to outlaw space saving.
The petition called for council to consider a different safety concern.
“(We) would also like the council to consider the chaos that could potentially happen at 6 a.m. on the morning of July 4th if thousands of eager citizens will be trying to get a spot at the same time,” the petition read.
According to Kate Speer, the petition’s creator, who is also responsible for the Facebook page titled “Save the Canonsburg Parade Chairs,” which has more than 260 followers, the signatures were presented to council in hopes of reaching a compromise.
Councilman Richard Russo said the matter was left as a possible voting item next week. He said four people spoke in favor of revising the ban during the public comment session, and one resident in attendance held up a small chair bearing a cardboard sign that read “It’s tradition” on one side and “Save the chairs” on the other, throughout the entire meeting.
“He literally sat there for an hour and went back and forth with the chair,” Russo said.
Although he was among the seven council members who voted favor of the restriction, Russo said he’s willing to entertain a compromise, but would like to hear from Canonsburg police Chief R.T. Bell, who was not present at the meeting, first regarding any safety issues.
“I think the biggest problem was people began to rope off stuff,” Russo said.
Based on several pages of comments from the petition’s signers, which were also presented to council, a one- or two-day compromise appeared to be the consensus.
“As a former member of the committee and resident of the community, I see no harm in having chairs placed 48 hours before the parade,” Jill Shook wrote.
“I think that each chair should have their name on them and I do believe that 48 hours is a good time to start putting chairs up,” Arlene Griffith wrote.
Others shared their concerns about waiting until the day of the parade.
“There’s going to be chaos the day of the parade if you wait to set out the chairs!” Tiffany Fratini wrote.
The petition also notes that restrictions on the use of ropes, chains and caution tape would be acceptable.
Changes to the ban could come as early as Monday if a motion to revise the restrictions surfaces during the upcoming council meeting.