Annual marshmallow war’s sticky mess has fed-up locals fired up
by Dave Schwab
Jul 10, 2013 | 18552 views | 1 1 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents and lifeguards survey the sidewalks near the Ocean Beach Pier following the long-running marshmallow war that occurs after every Fourth of July fireworks display. Some locals, saddled with sticky shoes and the cost of cleanup, said they have had enough.               Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
Residents and lifeguards survey the sidewalks near the Ocean Beach Pier following the long-running marshmallow war that occurs after every Fourth of July fireworks display. Some locals, saddled with sticky shoes and the cost of cleanup, said they have had enough. Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
slideshow
Tempers are flaring over Ocean Beach’s escalating marshmallow war and the costly cleanup associated with it.

The annual Ocean Beach Marshmallow Fight — a beach tradition that follows the Fourth of July community fireworks show from the OB Pier — has seemingly turned from frivolous fun to tasteless controversy in the eyes of some.

What began in 1985 as a small, interfamily affair between the Grosch and Zounes families, who hosted rival Fourth of July holiday parties, has morphed over time into a large-scale, frenzied event leaving the community to clean up the gooey mess.

Fun is fun, but some merchants and residents are beginning to wonder whether it’s time for the party to be over.

“What started out as a friendly thing with OB kids has just gotten out of hand,” said longtime Ocean Beach resident Bill Joyce, chef/owner of Surfside Cuisine Catering. “I really was upset about it this year. It was so much more than expected. Just massive amounts of marshmallows and the boardwalk literally caked.”

The time — and expense — of cleaning marshmallows from the Fourth of July mess are mushrooming, said critics.

“We’re attempting to deal with it as best we can,” said Denny Knox, executive director of the OB MainStreet Association, which has nothing to do with organizing the event. “We’ve spent $3,000 [so far this year]. Once it (mess) was small, on the sand and could be raked up pretty easily. Now it’s really gotten too big.”

Knox said the gooey, yucky marshmallow aftermath, which used to get cleaned up in a matter of hours, is now taking weeks or even months to eradicate.

There are other problems associated with it, too.

“It’s gumming up a lot of things — our cleaning equipment — costing dollars we could be spending on some truly nice things for the community, rather than cleaning up marshmallow goo,” Knox said.

Knox said she has gotten about 250 e-mails the past several days from businesses and residents complaining about the marshmallow mess and asking, “What are you going to do about it?”

Haley Haggerstone, chapter coordinator for the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, whose mission is to protect the oceanfront, spent July 5 with others at Ocean Beach trying to clean up after the Independence Day festivities.

Haggerstone said volunteer crews picked up 1,800 pounds of trash on

July 5, “95 percent of which was probably marshmallows.”

“I’ve seen it evolve. It’s grown,” said Haggerstone, an Ocean Beach resident.

What to do about the annual tradition is problematic.

“How do you stop it?” asked Haggerstone. “I’ve heard a lot of talk about shutting this down. But how do you shut down an unorganized thing that’s been going on for 25 years? ”

There could be at least one clear-cut solution though.

“If you contribute to it, you should be part of the cleanup effort the next morning,” Haggerstone said.

Joyce said the marshmallow madness has reached the point where it’s become a community blight.

“It’s just disgusting,” he said. “I think the majority of the locals don’t want it after this year after seeing what it did to our community. There’s still thousands and thousands of them (marshmallows) in the sand.”

Joyce offered another possible solution to address the mess: have people who are cited for Fourth of July weekend offenses help in the cleanup to teach them a lesson about social responsibility.

“We’re looking for a solution,” said Knox.

She added the next step in counteracting the marshmallow mess could be contacting the Ocean Beach Town Council and having the issue put on its next agenda, or to hold a special town hall meeting on the subject.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page titled “No Marshmallow Wars” has been set up to allow people to vent about Ocean Beach’s “marshmallowing” problem.
Comments
(1)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
OBRACER1
|
July 11, 2013
Quote : " OB MainStreet Association, which has nothing to do with organizing the event " Mr Schwab ! are you kidding me !

What are the other events that have marshmallow fights in Ocean Beach ?

This same destruction has been going on for many years, The OBMA was contacted the last three years, the city's office on special events that issues the permit to the OBMA was contacted, park & rec. which sings off on the permit was also contacted in an effort to prevent the mess.

Nobody ! including the OBMA, the organizer of the event, should claim they have " nothing to do " with the mess. That's absurd ! and it's part of the reason things have gotten out of control, they refuse to take responsibility.

All involved should be held accountable for failure to prepare for what was anticipated by all.

The OBMA is 100% responsible for the mess at Veterans plaza and the entrance to the pier.

You did not mention the OBMA power washed and cleaned the sidewalk's on Newport Ave , but stopped when they got to Veterans Plaza and the pier. How much of the $ 3,000 is for the fine due to illegally dumping into storm drains ?

The OBMA is a business group, they could care less about the community, until it makes the news.

OBMA says “We’re looking for a solution,” first clean up the mess your event left in our community, the solution is warm water & elbow grease !