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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

It rained on our parade!

By Bobbie McCreary


July 29, 2016
Friday AM

Letter to the Editor:

What the heck, Ketchikan! Paintball “markers” (guns) without tanks are even safer than guns without ammo because there is no way to shoot…even if there were “ammo” (AKA paintballs) hiding inside the paintball marker.

We successfully argued this point with the City Council 10 years ago when the Ketchikan Youth Initiatives HOT SHOTS leaders first undertook running and promoting a paintball business on Revilla Road. We agreed that the markers would be discharged only in a fully netted, fund-raising booth with safety measures in place: Netting, Masks, Supervision.

What happened on the 4th of July? After our Paintball Leadership team and parents had spent 3 hours building a netted field on the back of a 16 ft flatbed for the parade, someone from a nearby float informed the team members and adults at our float that the youth could not carry their paintball markers while marching or even play a simulated game inside the netted field. This opinion came from someone who had no jurisdiction over the parade, but seemingly assumed the power to deliver this edict, a scant 20 minutes before the parade began! When I arrived, I tried to locate the individual l with no luck; I talked to a current City council member who suggested talking to the police. The Chamber Executive Director and I talked to the police officer leading the parade who said they wouldn’t want someone scaring parade viewers by pointing a marker at them. I assured them this was our leadership team and they certainly would not use that behavior, we had advised we were going to stage a “simulated paintball contest.” As this was, after all, the Chamber of Commerce parade, their Executive Director went off to resolve this issue by getting approval from the Chamber president.

Meanwhile I went back to the float, had the dozen or so paintball team members line up and, one by one, take an oath not to point their markers at anyone other than the simulated game participants.

Unfortunately, the damage was already done and, although there were “real” guns in the parade carried by other organizations, the message from the Chamber President came back, “no paintball guns allowed.”

What a disappointment for our team members! They were looking forward to showing their stuff AND attracting business to our paintball fields. Without the excitement of the paintball game performance, our “sales” effort fell flat and we did not attract anyone to our snap cage staged at KTKN, a double whammy, no fun and no money into the bonus pool for our team members.

KYI emphasizes youth-directed, adult-mentored programming, particularly to teach job-related, practical skills that help our teens and young adults make successful entries into the workforce. Our paintball leadership program provides this opportunity to learn in a real life setting, managing the paintball fields that serve groups of crew members, local groups and individuals. How about giving them (Ketchikan’s future leaders) a chance? We worked out this issue 10 years ago with the City of Ketchikan to let us use markers in the parade and in the booths.

Let us show we have responsible teens in Ketchikan. Don’t rain on our parade!

Bobbie McCreary
KYI Administrator
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received July 27, 2016 - Published July 29, 2016


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