By Mike Fallon, Iowa City
This morning, my neighborhood park (Happy Hollow) was a total pigsty. Yesterday, rabble-rousers lit off fireworks for hours and trashed the park. A visit to the park this morning revealed spent fireworks debris, spilled food waste, smeared charcoal stains, and lots and lots of trash. I watched city sanitation workers spend hours cleaning up the mess. The hooligans lit fireworks all over the park, in the grass, on the sidewalks and in the parking lot. They lit them on the adjacent private property, too.
A few of my neighbors told me that they had phoned the police to ask for assistance in calming and dispersing the hooligans. It seems the police were of little help. The troublemakers scared dogs, woke children and disrupted sleep with loud fireworks until 11:30 p.m. The official closing time for city park shelters is 10 p.m. Clearly, the hooligans had remained at the park shelter beyond the officially sanctioned time limit. Additionally, the Park Director told the shelter at Happy Hollow Park wasn’t rented so there was “nothing the Parks Dept. could do” about the mess. It seems the hooligans get off scot-free and the taxpayers foot the bill!
Apparently, many Iowa City parks were trashed on July 4th. Which leads me to wonder why the city officials didn’t anticipate the problem and why the police didn’t actively oust the troublemakers for violating city rules and ordinances. And, how much money the taxpayers doled out to clean up the mess.
When I think about past 4th of July celebrations, I recall many a happy moment. I fondly recall celebrating the 4th of July with my parents at a baseball game. In 1976 — the United States Bicentennial — it seemed our entire town dressed up in silly patriotic costumes and marched, with great fanfare and pride, down main street. For me, trashing Happy Hollow Park on the 4th of July is far from patriotic or honorable. It’s quite sad to watch dishonorable hooligans overstay their welcome and exhibit bad manners. For me, they revealed their true colors.