By Jessica LaFontaine
A sticky situation has led the Ocean Beach Town Council to ban the neighborhood's annual summertime marshmallow fight. As the Council's official resolution states, the event has "...devolved into a rolling, violent altercation in which some bystanders have been injured and had their property destroyed."
What began in the mid-1980s as a friendly rivalry between families celebrating Independence Day on the beach has since erupted into high-glucose warfare. The tossing of jet-puffed ammunition escalated into the use of slingshots and other improvised firing devices. The ammo, too, became more dangerous, as some participants launched frozen, ignited, even rock-filled confections in all directions.
"At one point, people came inside our business throwing marshmallows," says a local business owner on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. "It basically turned into a riot."
On July 5, 168 Surfrider Foundation volunteers cleared a reported 1,802 pounds of trash from the sand and streets, 90 percent of which was estimated to be marshmallows.
"We spent a lot of money trying to clean it up," says Denny Knox, executive director of Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association. "Thirty-five hundred dollars was spent on the business district with power sprayers. It's no joke."
Town Council released its resolution in late-September, requesting that police enforce laws against littering and vandalism to help prevent future fights, and asking Ocean Beach merchants to stop selling merchandise that promotes the fight.
"Target, off Sports Arena, was sold out of marshmallows," Knox says.
Knox, other officials, business owners and residents hope the elimination of airborne (and ultimately Earth-stuck) marshmallows will help return the neighborhood to its mellower roots. As for what will make O.B.'s streets sticky next remains to be seen, but residents would be wise to keep their eyes peeled on dog beach and local marijuana dispensaries.