A year later, the OBTC is following up on that pledge with a publicity campaign themed “Mallow Out.”
What began in 1985 as a festive, local family feud has morphed over time into a large-scale free-for-all, leaving the beach community a gooey mess that has stained streets, sidewalks and nearby businesses — forcing an army of volunteers to do increasingly costly cleanups.
“The event’s gotten out of hand with marshmallows not just on the sand and beach but all over the streets,” said OBTC president Gretchen Kinney Newsom.
She said the marshmallow stains never quite go away and that the carnage has also spread to the nearby Veterans’ Plaza.
“Remnants of those marshmallows are still stuck to some of those veterans’ plaques, dishonoring a memorial we’ve created in our community,” she said.
The war to end all food fights might also be distasteful because it’s likely to be time consuming in order to bring the annual tradition to a halt, admitted OBTC member Dave Cieslak.
“We have no delusion that the marshmallow war is going to come to an abrupt stop this year,” Cieslak said. “But we’re working to get the word out that the event is damaging to businesses and that people have been injured. We want people to come out and enjoy the fireworks, hit the restaurants, bars and shops, but not to throw marshmallows.”
Local businesses are being enlisted in the “Mallow Out” campaign and are being asked not to stockpile and sell the squishy ammunition.
“Olive Tree Market has vowed not to sell marshmallows,” said Denny Knox, executive director of OB MainStreet Association, the community’s business improvement district.
Local residents and businesses are being asked by the OBTC to go online at www.obtowncouncil.org and pledge to end the marshmallow war by not throwing the confections and by not selling accessories like shirts, popguns, slingshots or other items promoting the fight.
“We’re hoping people exercise better judgment by not throwing marshmallows, because it’s really bad for the environment and really bad for the animals we love in OB,” said Knox, adding she hopes people get the message that “marshmallows are almost impossible to clean off the sidewalk.”
Knox said social media has turned out to be something negative in this case, because it has greatly enhanced people’s ability to hype the post-fireworks Fourth of July tradition, the end result being “what was very local with some families and neighbors” has turned into “truckloads of people coming in from elsewhere,” leading to things getting out of hand.
“That just really is unacceptable,” said Knox.
Kinney Newsom said the OBTC and police are working together to encourage the community to “mallow out.”
“We’ll have a team of volunteers from the community wearing ‘no-marshmallow’ T-shirts collecting marshmallows which will be donated to local Girl Scouts,” she said. “We’re also going to have a news conference with police on July 1 at Veterans’ Plaza.”
Kinney Newsom said police will be present in force July 4 to ensure the marshmallow war doesn’t escalate beyond the beach and out into the streets.
The marshmallow war issue will also be discussed at the next OB Town Council meeting Wednesday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at the OB Masonic Center, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
For more information, visit obtowncouncil.org;mallow-out.