Ban of candy throwing touches nerves

Not so sweet news, as selectmen adopt new rules and regulations for Fourth of July event.

People toss candy from the Winnetu Oceanside Resort float in this year's Edgartown Fourth of July parade. Selectmen have approved new parade rules, barring candy throwing and commercial floats.

Updated July 24

Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to adopt a set of rules and guidelines limiting participants, signage, and even candy throwing for the annual Independence Day Parade.

Joe Sollitto, the parade’s director, gave selectmen the set of rules, which included a ban on candy throwing due to safety concerns. Passing out candy is still allowed.

The town’s decision to halt candy throwing has caused a knee-jerk reaction from people on social media.

The Times Facebook page received more than 50 comments ranging from support for Sollitto’s rule changes to outrage over a common parade tradition.

“Every single one of you should go volunteer with the ambulance or go visit a children’s trauma unit; you ever see what happens to a child who goes under the wheel of a vehicle? This year was the worst for kids pushing further and further into the road, making it difficult and extremely dangerous. These aren’t traffic cones, they’re children that you’re pushing into the path of a vehicle for candy, WTH is wrong with you?” commenter Mikey Waters said.

Ronda Poole Guerreiro felt there shouldn’t be any ban. “The throwing candy was the best part of the parade! My kids love trying to catch it.”

Sollitto called The Times to clarify after some interpreted the ban as an outright ban on candy. 

“It’s not a ban on candy,” he said, noting children could run out into the road. “It’s changing the method of distribution.”

Despite a 2-0 vote from selectmen approving the rules, Sollitto said the rules were proposed to the town early so there could be discussion and suggestions for next year. “These aren’t the final rules,” Sollitto said.

Sollitto’s rules also limit participation in the parade to nonprofits, camps, teams, musical groups, farm or agriculture, families, veterans or military, and municipal groups. Groups that fall in other categories such as commercial businesses are able to sponsor one of the allowed groups, but are only permitted two signs, no bigger than two square feet, with their business logo.

Sollitto says the town isn’t trying to limit participation, but wants to curb the commercialization of the parade. 

The handing out of coupons, pamphlets, or advertising of any sort is also prohibited. Antique vehicles are welcome in the parade if they are 50 years or older. Any group entering the parade will have to preregister with the selectmen’s office.

“Every business seems to want to come and advertise,” Sollitto said. “We probably should try to get away from the commercialization that’s been happening over the past couple of years.”

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck was not present at the meeting, but the board voted 2-0 to adopt the changes.

Sollitto pointed to selectman Michael Donaroma’s business, Donaroma’s Nursery, as an example of what is allowed. Donaroma’s pulled the Vineyard Haven Band float with one of its cars. The only signage for the business was two decals on the side of the car. “Now we have a list of what’s allowed in the parade,” selectman Michael Donaroma said. “A little more guidance.”

In other business, a homeowner’s association in Katama voiced concerns over a planned project at the Katama Landing boat ramp. The project proposes to widen the ramp from 20 feet to 30 feet, and lengthen it from 49 feet to 96 feet, to accommodate launching the town dredge by trailer instead of by crane. The ramp will also still be used for recreational and some commercial boating use. 

In an email to the town, Doug Cameron, the assistant director and deputy chief engineer of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, said the use of the ramp is to provide access to coastal waters for the launching and retrieval of boats. Local shellfishermen or charter fishing boats are allowed to use the ramp and park at the landing. Charter boat customers, however, are not allowed to park at the landing.

Members of the Katama Association are concerned that the increased size of the ramp will turn the area into a commercialized site. “You’re turning a residential ramp into a commercial ramp,” Vincent Sabatini, one of the members of the association, said. “This change is unbelievable.”

Selectmen said the project has been in the works for the past few years. Voters recently approved $120,000 at April’s annual town meeting to pay for the town’s 25 percent share of the project. The state will pay for the remaining 75 percent.

“This has been several years of planning; I think we just have to keep going,” selectman Margaret Serpa said.


Updated to add clarification from Sollitto and comments from the public. — Ed.


  1. What? No candy for the kids? Try going to a parade in New Orleans where the three-story floats throw coconuts, beads of all sizes, shoes, cabbage, and potatoes (on St. Patty’s Day Parade) and more. I think a little gently tossed candy won’t hurt.

    • I think the problem was kids on the float would fire the candy all over. I rode on one and they were trying to pick people off at the Harbor View and down Water Street. Handing it out and dropping it will probably not be a problem.

  2. I agree with Suzanne. The kids watching the parade expect candy and will be sorely disappointed. It creates a dangerous situation if the kids have to come up and crowd the float to get some. I agree with the other rules and the rationale. The business advertising is making the parade much too commercialized. Let’s bring back the community spirit of the parade.

  3. To Mr. Sabatini, according to tax records you bought your property in 1979. Long BEFORE you arrived, the ramp was used by commercial eel fisherman. They stored their live eel catch in large rectangular boxes in the water. Trucks would arrive to receive/purchase/transport their catch to market. When Hurricane Bob destroyed the ramp in 1991, boat launch traffic decreased since the temporary ramp did not have proper pitch and was overcome by sand and shoaling. Living in proximity to a public access point was a choice and the access point was there well before 1979. According to tax records you paid $78,400 for your property. If you feel this repair to the ramp will impact that investment, I’ll gladly pay you ten times what you paid for it so you can find a place with less ‘riff raff’. Let me know.

  4. “kids watching the parade expect candy” — ahh – when did this happen? Parades are about community, music, pageantry, and about celebration. There should be no “expectations!?” (of candy or anything else).

    Throwing candy is DANGEROUS – not because someone in the crowd will be hit, but rather because too much candy doesn’t make it into the crowd and is left in the road – dangerously in the path of the oncoming parade traffic. I personally pulled several kids out of the street, and out of the path of vehicles.

  5. Wow, talk about micromanagement. Way to ruin the parade. Perhaps your focus should be on ending the VTA strike rather than ruining a parade everyone loves. SMH

  6. No more throwing candy. Really? Good grief have we citizens become that pathetically soft?

  7. I like you Mr Sollitto, but you might want to go back and familiarize yourself with Massachusetts own definition of an “antique vehicle “.
    A 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am , a la Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, is every bit as worthy as a 1957 Chevy or the great old woody station wagon from the Shiretown Inn.
    From Massachusetts,”Definitions
    Antique motor car. Any motor vehicle over twenty-five years old which is maintained solely for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other functions of public interest and which is not used primarily for the transportation of passengers or goods over any way, provided that the application for registration thereof is accompanied by an affidavit upon a form provided by the registrar which shall include a statement of the age and intended use of such motor vehicle.”

  8. Needlessly incendiary headline: CANDY THROWING BANNED. In reality, kids will still get candy at the parade, it will just be handed out by people walking the route as is the habit of many mainland MA towns and others. Not a huge deal!

  9. Believe it or not a few of us taxpaying adults like candy too. I was chewing on a few tootsie rolls. If it isnt broke dont fix it.

  10. Most of the kids are going to be looking at their cell phones and waiting for their (grand)parents’ nostalgic re-enactment of a previous era’s fun to end, anyway.

  11. This will be the 2nd time candy throwing has been banned from the parade. In the mid 90’s a child was hit by candy and the parents complained to the town. It was decided that no more candy could be thrown. Of course the next year people threw candy and no one was enforcing the no candy rule.

  12. As a parent, I applaud this decision, although I’m sure it won’t stick. I stopped going to the parades because of the candy tossing. I’m not strictly anti-candy, but I don’t think a parade should be a candy distribution center. Kids get enough candy and sweets these days without it being shoved down our throats at a community event (that isn’t a typical “candy” holiday like Easter or Halloween).

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