CANONSBURG – As Pike Street starts to flood with flimsy plastic chairs, metal folding chairs and cushioned office chairs – not to mention a plethora of lawn chairs and the occasional wooden bar stool – it would be no surprise if downtown Canonsburg rivals a furniture store by Thursday.
The Canonsburg Fourth of July tradition of staking out a spot along the borough parade route has officially been under way since 6 a.m. Tuesday, under a new Canonsburg Council policy.
Although many of the chairs are technically in violation of the policy, which states that chairs must not be strung together or tied to any object, Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome said the chair situation has been less hectic than expected.
“I think we’re in good shape, Rhome said. “I feel comfortable with what we’ve seen.”
Effective this year, residents could place their chairs on sidewalks no sooner than 48 hours before the start of the parade. Rhome inspected the parade route at 11:30 p.m. Monday, and he said there were just three chairs in violation of the policy. The chairs were moved away from the sidewalk to a safer area where no one could trip on the rope connecting them. There was also a bench tied up with an 18-foot cable, which was removed by police.
However, the sidewalks were not as bare the next morning.
“At 8 o’clock, you knew there was going to be a parade here in Canonsburg,” Rhome said.
Rhome and Police Chief R.T. Bell walked along Pike Street about noon Tuesday and discussed what to do with the dozens of chairs that were linked together with rope, bungee cords, caution tape and, in one instance, Christmas lights.
Several chairs were weighted down by a plank of wood, and another was secured with a plastic chain.
One chair by the post office was secured in three spots by a rope connected to guardrails and the door handle of a pickup truck in the adjoining parking lot.
Rhome said that ultimately, the decision of whether or not to confiscate the chairs is up to borough council members.
Council President John Bevec could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Bell said the situation was a Catch-22 because the rope kept some of the chairs from blowing into traffic, which could potentially pose a greater risk than the rope obstructing pedestrian paths.
Rhome said there are significantly fewer chairs on the sidewalks this year, possibly because of the delay caused by the borough policy, but he anticipates many more to pop up today.
A Facebook page called the “Canonsburg Fourth of July Celebration” originally posted that chairs could be placed on the sidewalks beginning at 12:01 a.m. July 2, but later posted that the correct time was 6 a.m. Because of the confusion, two local residents got into a tiff.
According to Canonsburg police, a man wanted to fight another person for putting a sign that said “cheater” on his chair, which he had placed on the sidewalk two minutes after midnight.
Bell said that about two dozen chairs are stolen each year, which he said is a small amount considering the high parade turnout. He said many paradegoers claim their spots with cheap chairs, then replace them with more comfortable chairs the morning of the parade.
“People have this down to an art,” he said.
Canonsburg resident Angie Hall said she has seen the parade “mushroom” over the past 20 years. She wishes the borough would have allowed the chairs to be put out earlier, in order to top the national attention the chair debacle received last year.
“We get on TV that way. That’s the fun part,” she joked.