By Frank Gormlie
The Marshmallow War in Ocean Beach last night, July 4th, was less than a third of what it was in 2013. Way less marshmallows were thrown, the throwing did not get out of hand, and by 9:50 it was over and there was hardly a marshmallow in the streets down around Newport and Abbott. It indeed, was but a shadow of its former self – and that was a good thing. No violence. No riot.
Compared to last year, there were no marshmallows thrown before the fireworks, none thrown during the fireworks, and after the explosions and light show, it took a few moments before the first white globs were seen in the air.
Police were fairly low-key, although their presence was known – they had set up a command post in and around the trailer in the OB Pier parking lot. At least two arrests were made – one was related to the marshmallow throwing.
The OB Rag had several observers present at last night’s revelry – including this reporter – in order to monitor what exactly happened when the fireworks ended – to see if the marshmallow ban held or not. For most of the time, I stood close to the intersection of Newport Avenue and Abbott Street with camera and notebook in hand (most of my photos didn’t come out for the bad lighting).
Matt Wood was close by as were a couple of other observers. One – Daniel H – sent us multiple tweets of his observations which Patty back at the office re-tweeted last night.
I took my position before the fireworks went off. The crowd had gathered – yet two hand-made signs strapped to flag poles and illuminated with their own lights announced “No Marshmallows” and “Littering is illegal”. Half of the last block of Newport had been blocked off by police as well as the south end of Abbott.
Once in a while a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” would break out briefly. An Uncle Sam on stilts strolled by. People were streaming in from all over.
Over to the side, right near the OB Hotel, a 3-member band from Alpine called “Hello From Montawk” was trying to play. Another reporter, J.C. Playford, came up to me and told me the OB Marshmallow Wars were famous all over the world, in Europe and England.
Upstairs in the Wonderland bar, the crowd burst out in the national anthem. Then the fireworks began – and the explosions. The first loud boom elicited expectant cries of joy from the watchers. A grown man next to me “That’s what I want – I want explosions!”
At this point, the beach was packed. The cement sidewalks were packed. The grassy areas were packed. A small crowd stood in the street on Newport watching the lights and sounds.
But this is not a report on the fireworks – they were great as usual ….
A couple with a dog stood next to me. She used to live in OB but now they live in Ramona. They couldn’t wait for the marshmallow shindig to begin. I asked her about the marshmallows. She said “It’s a tradition. Like turkey on Thanksgiving.” They both later threw a couple of the blobs taken from the street. Ironically, the couple was staying in the OB Hotel. Minutes later, I watched as the hotel manager, Steve Grosch went by with a bag busily picking up marshmallows.
Sure, marshmallows were thrown, but not too many reached the street. Other observers said that the beach was filled with them. But a person who showed up to clean this morning – Sat. the 5th – said there weren’t any in the streets – unlike last year.
All our observers concurred – much more tame than 2013.
Grosch was part of a team of OBceans going after the white stuff that included Pat James of the OB Historical Society, Gretchen and Trudy from the OB Town Council. To a person, they all said that it was much more mellow than before, like maybe only 20% of last year’s over-the -top event.
One arrest was made of a woman when she jumped on a teen male after he had thrown a marshmallow at her. She had grabbed him in a headlock and was punching him. She was taken away to applause from the nearby crowd.
Near the end of the evening event, as crowds were leaving the beach in troves, a woman started throwing sand on homeless people and calling them names. Another woman jumped up and confronted her. The first woman began attacking her, pulling some of her hair out. A third woman joined the fray as did another, both trying to pull the assailant off the person who had tried to stop her from dissing the homeless.
All 4 were taken to the police command post to get the stories straightened out. The police released the woman who confronted the assailant – and I spoke to her. Kayla Ziogas had stood up for the homeless, and no, she’s not homeless. She’s been in OB for 2 years and a had a group of friends who all hugged her and her friend Erin who had come to her rescue.
As I said earlier, the marshmallows were over by 9:50pm and the beach and street were clearing out.
The Town Council’s attempt to ban the tradition that had gotten out of hand was 80% successful – if you want to put a number on it.
The marshmallow controversy is over – for the time being – the clean-up that followed was much more “mallow” than past years.
On to the rest of the summer – and on to the rest of OB’s controversies. …..
Here’s a video of July 4, 2014 in OB by MrVloggerfrog: