Man worries parade carts will prove deadly

Andrew Robinson
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Keystone Kops spokesman says hurting children ‘last thing we would want to do’

The Keystone Kops’ miniature vehicles may have brought joy to the thousands of children who came out to watch the Downtown

St. John’s resident Ron Howell did not enjoy watching these miniature vehicles driven by the Mazol Shriners’ Keystone Kops twist and turn their way through the parade route for Sunday’s Downtown St. John’s Christmas Parade.

St. John’s Christmas Parade Sunday, but at least one older attendee worries they will harm a child.

“They’re only trying to give the kids a thrill, I know,” said Ron Howell. “But I’m telling you — Murphy’s Law — if something can happen, it will happen. Someone is going to be killed down there.”

Howell was at the parade Sunday with two of his grandchildren.

“I don’t want to — pardon the pun — rain on anyone’s parade. The kids had a great time down there. It was fantastic. ... But man oh man, I can’t believe what goes on. The way they go around and stop and go. I’m just really concerned they are going to plow into a crowd of kids.”

While he understands children enjoy watching the Keystone Kops zip along the parade route, Howell said, human error could create serious trouble in such a crowded area.

“I think the potential is real.”

Allan Neil, director of the Keystone Kops for Mazol Shriners Newfoundland and Labrador, said Howell’s concerns are not widespread.

“We drove up towards the end of Water Street (Sunday) where the parade ended, and we had to pull in our trailers. We were loading our gear on the trailers, and everybody that passed by said, ‘Boys, you made the parade again this year.’”

Mazol Shriners devote their energy to the cause of sick children by flying them to Shriners hospitals located throughout North America.

“Naturally, the last thing we would want to do is to hurt a little kid, because our Number 1 obligation in the world is for kids,” said Neil.

Howell said his safety concerns are not intended to put a black mark on the Mazol Shriners.

“They do great work, especially with kids,” he said. “But that doesn’t alter the fact ... somebody can’t tell me that’s safe.”

An insurance policy is in place for the Keystone Kops’ participation in the St. John’s parade. At one point, drivers used to stop and pose for pictures with attendees along the parade and pass out treats, but they no longer do so.

“All I can ensure is that before we go on the parade, we have a little discussion and we talk about the rules and we adhere to what the organizers send out. We send in our insurance, because they won’t let us participate (without it).”

Neil said he does intend to mention Howell’s concerns to his fellow Keystone Kops.

“This is the first time that I’ve had any complaint from a watcher of the parade,” said Neil, who has been involved with the group for about five years. “The police are there. They see us. We talk to them all the time.”

Howell said he filed a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary following the parade. A spokeswoman for the RNC told The Telegram in an email that there was “no indication that a complaint was received” in relation to the vehicles used by the Keystone Kops.

“The parade is on a closed traffic route and all who receive participation status from the City of St. John's are required to be fully insured,” she further noted in the email.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Keystone Kops for Mazol Shriners Newfoundland and Labrador, The Telegram

Geographic location: Water Street, North America, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • April
    November 27, 2013 - 09:43

    Mr. Howell is just another complainer. Sure go ahead and file a complaint with the RNC, but your wasting your time and the precious time of the RNC. Does Mr. Howell think that the police have nothing better to do!!! Next year Mr. Howell STAY HOME!!!!!!!!

  • KR
    November 27, 2013 - 06:29

    I don't think you can bubble wrap your kids. There are going to be dangers out there and you have to teach your kids how to be safe around them. The Keystone Kops were entertaining, and we loved them! The shriners is a wonderful organization, and I trust that they take every safety precaution possible. I hope they enter the parade again next year!

  • Katy
    November 26, 2013 - 11:18

    People need to step back - literally and figuratively. Can the Keystone Kops hurt someone? Absolutely. Anyone standing in front of the barricades or on the street shouldn't be there in the first place. Stay on the sidewalks and behind the barricades and the chances of being hurt by a dancer, clown, float or Keystone Kop drop to nearly zip. Let your kids stand on the road, and you're putting them in harm's way.

  • Jay
    November 26, 2013 - 10:05

    Give me a break! The chicken littles of the world have taken over. Last month it was another idiot, complaining about inspections on the floats. Maybe they should just cancel the parade to satisfy the lunatic fringe. If you're that scared, lock your children up, and keep them at home. I'm sure there are risks there too.

  • Kama
    November 26, 2013 - 08:22

    The Keystone Kops are my favourite part of the parade and I watch for them every year. I think the drivers are careful about what they are doing and are well used to those vehicles. Mr. Howell should be more concerned about parents not watching their kids and letting them run out into the road.

  • prufock
    November 26, 2013 - 08:12

    Why focus on the Shriners, everything in that parade COULD pose a risk. You have horses that could kick or trample, dogs that could bite, trucks that could go out of control. Maybe a drummer will lose a stick and take somebody in the eye. Jon has it right, the risk of getting into an accident ON THE WAY to the parade is higher than getting mowed by a Keystone Kop.

  • Ba Humbug
    November 26, 2013 - 08:11

    Is this guy for real? They've been involved in the parade for eons. Has there ever been an issue? If he's really that concerned he should stay home and let everyone else enjoy the parade.

  • Ba Humbug
    November 26, 2013 - 08:10

    Is this guy for real? They've been involved in the parade for eons. Has there ever been an issue? If he's really that concerned he should stay home and let everyone else enjoy the parade.

  • Melissa
    November 26, 2013 - 08:03

    The Keystone Kops have been in the parade for as long as I can remember, which is at least 25 years. Get over it!

  • karen n
    November 26, 2013 - 08:03

    i think the key stone cops are great ,, myself and my kids were standing on duckworth street in the war memorial area ,, the ppl around was cracking up with joy and laughter to see the karts and cars of the keystone cops going around . the drivers are fully use to driving these cars and karts every year at the parade,, and i feel they got the upmost safety in mind as they travel the parade routes,,even though i must say on the turns of some of the go karts tghey came close to the ppl but i can voutch the fact also that the ppl were on the rioad and not on the sidewalk where they were suppose to be,, instead alot of ppl were out too far and usually they were told to move back ,, so i dont blame nothing on the keystone cops for doing such a tremendous job every year making ppl laught at the parade. the ppl should learn to stay off the street as any other person should do when it comes to traffic flow .

  • Guy Incognito
    November 26, 2013 - 07:52

    As they were doing doughnuts inches from the kids I was waiting for someone to get hit. Nobody questions their good intentions, but it is scary to wach.

  • Jon
    November 26, 2013 - 07:47

    I am 30 years old and still have memories of looking forward to this part of the parade the most when I was a child. You take a risk with everything you do when you step outside your door. Driving your child to the parade was probably more of a risk than the keystone kops themselves. If you feel this is a risk, leave your kids at home. Can't do anything these days and you have people like Ron Howell complaining that "Won't someone please think of the children?!". Give me a break. Time to start bubble-wrapping our kids and leaving them indoors to appease people like this.