Lobster Festival bans politics from parade

By Stephen Betts | May 02, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham The Maine Lobster Festival is excluding politics from the upcoming 2018 parade. In 2014, then-state Sen. Edward  Mazurek served as grand marshal for the parade.

Rockland — Gov, Paul LePage, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Knox County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Carroll -- a former president of the Maine Lobster Festival -- are among those people who will not be allowed to march in this year's festival parade.

The festival board voted Tuesday, April 24, to exclude all political organizations and candidates from the annual parade held the first Saturday in August.

The online application for parade entrants already includes the new policy.

"The Maine Lobster Festival Parade is a non-partisan, secular and neutral private event which celebrates our community, our people and our lobsters. Because of this, we will no longer be accepting political applications. We anticipate and appreciate your respect of this policy," the policy states.

Board President Cynthia Powell said in these highly charged political times, there were other entrants to the parade who did not want to be marching alongside and be associated with various political groups.

Powell said the policy is fair, because it excludes all political groups.

"We want to celebrate the lobster industry, celebrate the community and not necessarily make a political statement," she said.

Representatives of local political parties questioned the action.

“I am troubled by this decision," said Rockland Democratic Chair Gerald Weinand. "Maine has a long tradition of candidates marching in parades held throughout the state, where they often zig-zag from curb to curb to shake hands and have a brief chat with constituents. Ironically, it is just this sort of person-to-person contact that can help to defuse the “highly-charged political times” that Board President Powell laments. I know many of the candidates that have marched in previous parades; Democrats, Republicans, third-party and independents, all whom I am happy to call friends and acquaintances."

“I’ll add that the Lobster Festival is not a 'private event,' since it is held in a city park and the parade runs down city streets,” Weinand said.

A Knox County representative of the Republican party also questioned the action, but said a formal statement should come from Knox County Republican Chair Blaine Richardson. No response had been received as of Saturday evening.

Zachery Annis, chair of the Knox County Democratic Committee, said, "We're disappointed that candidates from across the political spectrum won't be able to march in the lobster parade, because political engagement and representation is so important to a thriving, democratic community. The Knox County Democrats have been proud to participate in past years alongside our Republican friends in this wonderful community event; however, it is entirely within the committee's purview to allow or disallow political entrants. As long as the committee maintains this exclusion as nonpartisan, fair and across-the-board, we support them in their decision, but encourage them to reconsider for future events."

There are more than 65 parades nationally that prohibit political organizations and candidates, Powell said, including the Yarmouth Clam Festival. The Yarmouth Clam Festival's parade application states that "entries that are political, religious or controversial will not be accepted."

The Lobster Festival last year limited political groups to walking in the parade and not using vehicles, Powell said. The one exception was for anyone who was physically unable to walk.

The Maine Lobster Festival is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 5, on the Rockland waterfront.

Comments (20)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 02, 2018 15:08

My first post still holds. Thankful for the festival committee that works throughout the year to bring this together.

Seeing the polarization think it is an excellent idea. Floats spreading HOPE, TEAMWORK AND UNITY.  So much happening locally to be proud of.

 


 



Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 02, 2018 13:54

In doing some more research and wanting to fully understand the association of the term secularist organizations, I did not find the "Rockland Lobster Festival" listed. I did, however, find the following organization that would be associated with by definition from Wikipedia: Secularist organizations promote the view that moral standard should be based solely on concern for the good of humanity in the present, without reference to supernatural concepts, such as God or an afterlife, any desire to do good for a reward after death, or any fear of punishment for not believing in  life after death. The term "secularism", as coined and promulgated by George Jacob Holyoak, originally referred to such a view.  Secularism may also refer to the belief that government should be neutral on matters of religion, and that church and state should be seperate. The term here is used in the first sense, though most organizations listed here also slupport secularism in the second sense. The following is the list: of some:  COUNCIL OF AUSTRAILIAN HUMANIST SOCIETIES, RATIONALIST SOCIETY OF AUSTRAILIA,  WILLEMSfonds;BRAZIL, BRAZILIAN ASSOCIATION OF ATHEISTS AND AGNOSTICS; CANADA; CANADIAN ATHEISTS, FREETHOUGHT ASSOCIATION OF CANADA, TORONTO SECULAR ALLIANcE, FINLAND, UNION FREETHINKERS OF FINLAND, GERMAN, CENTRAL COUNCIL OF EX-MUSLIMS, GERMAN FREETHINKeRS LEAGUE.INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF NON-RELIGIOUS AND ATHEISTS, INDIA; ATHEIST CENTER, INDONESIAN ATHEISTS, ATHEIST IRELAND, ITALIAN UNION OF RATHIONALIiST AND AGNOSTICS, NORWEGIAN HEATHEN SOCIETY, SCOTISH SECULAR SOCIETY, AMERICAN ATHEISTS, AMERICAN ETHICAL UNION, AMERICAN SECULAR UNION, THE ATHEIST AGENDA, ATHEIST ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL. ATHEIST COMMUNITY OF AUSTIN, BAPTIST JOINT COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, CITY CONGREGATION FOR HUMANISTIC JUDAISM, FIRST HUMANIST SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, THE HUMANIST INSTITUTE, MILITARY ASSOCIATION OF ATHEISTS AND FREETHINKERS, AND MANY, MANY MORE. Some less common secularist labels include: apatheist, godless, ignostic, infidel, heathen, materialist, or realist. Stephen are you happy to defend a non religious organization that does not represent all the people in its purpose and mission?



Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 02, 2018 13:54

In doing some more research and wanting to fully understand the association of the term secularist organizations, I did not find the "Rockland Lobster Festival" listed. I did, however, find the following organization that would be associated with by definition from Wikipedia: Secularist organizations promote the view that moral standard should be based solely on concern for the good of humanity in the present, without reference to supernatural concepts, such as God or an afterlife, any desire to do good for a reward after death, or any fear of punishment for not believing in  life after death. The term "secularism", as coined and promulgated by George Jacob Holyoak, originally referred to such a view.  Secularism may also refer to the belief that government should be neutral on matters of religion, and that church and state should be seperate. The term here is used in the first sense, though most organizations listed here also slupport secularism in the second sense. The following is the list: of some:  COUNCIL OF AUSTRAILIAN HUMANIST SOCIETIES, RATIONALIST SOCIETY OF AUSTRAILIA,  WILLEMSfonds;BRAZIL, BRAZILIAN ASSOCIATION OF ATHEISTS AND AGNOSTICS; CANADA; CANADIAN ATHEISTS, FREETHOUGHT ASSOCIATION OF CANADA, TORONTO SECULAR ALLIANcE, FINLAND, UNION FREETHINKERS OF FINLAND, GERMAN, CENTRAL COUNCIL OF EX-MUSLIMS, GERMAN FREETHINKeRS LEAGUE.INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF NON-RELIGIOUS AND ATHEISTS, INDIA; ATHEIST CENTER, INDONESIAN ATHEISTS, ATHEIST IRELAND, ITALIAN UNION OF RATHIONALIiST AND AGNOSTICS, NORWEGIAN HEATHEN SOCIETY, SCOTISH SECULAR SOCIETY, AMERICAN ATHEISTS, AMERICAN ETHICAL UNION, AMERICAN SECULAR UNION, THE ATHEIST AGENDA, ATHEIST ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL. ATHEIST COMMUNITY OF AUSTIN, BAPTIST JOINT COMMITTEE FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, CITY CONGREGATION FOR HUMANISTIC JUDAISM, FIRST HUMANIST SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, THE HUMANIST INSTITUTE, MILITARY ASSOCIATION OF ATHEISTS AND FREETHINKERS, AND MANY, MANY MORE. Some less common secularist labels include: apatheist, godless, ignostic, infidel, heathen, materialist, or realist. Stephen are you happy to defend a non religious organization that does not represent all the people in its purpose and mission?



Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 02, 2018 10:21

I repeat this is not "THE MAINE LOBSTER FESTIVAL" someone needs to get that through their heads. This is not private, Valarie is correct in so many ways. I do find it interesting that whoever writes incognito as the spokesperson for the Rockland Lobster Festival states that there are far more opposing viewpoints than being entered in this forum is bullpucky untrue and full of bs. No guts no glory. If they oppose this forum and agree with the careless, mindless, useless vote of the Rockland Lobster Festival board why not have the guts to print their opinions here and let us know who you are. I am ashamed of the Rockland Lobster Festival and certainly hope they have the smarts, the guts, and the glory to rescind this assinine, simple-minded,  gutless decision in time to repair their error.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 01, 2018 11:36

"The Maine Lobster Festival Parade is a non-partisan, secular and neutral private event which celebrates our community, our people and our lobsters. Because of this, we will no longer be accepting political applications. We anticipate and appreciate your respect of this policy," the policy states."

When the policy states "SECULAR", that is opening up another can of worms.  If politics is now banned, what about religion?

Someone or a group who would want to march in the parade but not along side a religious group?  What about that coming up, sooner than later?

I do not believe that the Maine Lobster Festival can be categorized as a PRIVATE EVENT. Heck, The Maine Lobster Festival is known around the globe.

Definition of a Private Event....

Private Events cannot be advertised or made open to the public. Information about the event may be shared with invited guests and members only. Private Event SOPs cannot be used to facilitate the operation of an ongoing business. You cannot run the event with the intention of making a profit.  

 

Board President Cynthia Powell said in these highly charged political times, there were other entrants to the parade who did not want to be marching alongside and be associated with various political groups.

Ms. Powell, if the board is not allowing political parties in the parade, is it not fair to eliminate religious parties as well?

Politics will always be "highly charged".  To banned a group from joining in the parade just because "other entrants did not want to be marching alongside and be associated with various political groups is extremely childish!

I can not believe that the Maine Lobster Festival Board actually wrote this banned into their policy!

I am afraid, Maine Lobster Festival Board, you now have opened a sea of blood worms!

 

Powell said the policy is fair, because it excludes all political groups.



Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | May 01, 2018 01:26

Will we be losing our Union soldiers?



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 30, 2018 12:18

There is no such thing as the Maine Lobster Festival. It is incorporated as the Rockland Lobster Festival. And as for the comment from whoever the Maine Lobster Festival is it is too bad they can not sign a real name. This is a dividing factor and it stinks. Agree for the sake of your proposed unity and sell yourself out Ms. Karker. Good for you.



Posted by: Maine Lobster Festival | Apr 30, 2018 10:31

We would like to take a moment to clarify a few points that have been posted. The Maine Lobster Festival is a 501(c)(4) organization. We do not receive any funding from the City of Rockland. In fact, it's just the opposite. The Maine Lobster Festival pays the City a rental fee for the use of the space. In addition, we pay for increased local police and security coverage required during the Festival. While we appreciate many of the concerns raised here, we have received far more with the opposite points of view that caused us to consider this shift in policy for 2018. Thank you for your feedback and we will take all of it into account as we plan for future years.



Posted by: Jane Karker | Apr 30, 2018 08:05

Is the Lobster Fest unique or do other parades ban the marching of friendly politicians? I so admire the hard working volunteers who do a great job with the lobster fest. It’s amazing how smoothly things go. While I fear this ban is causing us to loose that long-held, down-home and very American tradition of actually getting to meet our politicians in person and see them in this a parade in front of the citizens, I’ll try and stand behind the committee’s decision in support. I know they are only trying to do what’s best. The committee and  (depending on their decision the ACLU) may have bigger fish to fry anyway as soon as a transgender girl applies to be s sea princess. All in all I think being open to all and not trying to apply control to the public parade works best in the long run. Just let Americans be who we are. It all works. In some ways seeing my neighbors from the other side of the political aisle walk down the street waving brings me a feeling of unity not devisiveness. I hope there have not been safety issues that brought this to the front. Again, thank you hard-working volunteers. You are appreciated and I know you are only trying to make decisions you feel will work best. This year should be a great festival!



Posted by: Jane Karker | Apr 30, 2018 08:04

Is the Lobster Fest unique or do other parades ban the marching of friendly politicians? I so admire the hard working volunteers who do a great job with the lobster fest. It’s amazing how smoothly things go. While I fear this ban is causing us to loose that long-held, down-home and very American tradition of actually getting to meet our politicians in person and see them in this a parade in front of the citizens, I’ll try and stand behind the committee’s decision in support. I know they are only trying to do what’s best. The committee and  (depending on their decision the ACLU) may have bigger fish to fry anyway as soon as a transgender girl applies to be s sea princess. All in all I think being open to all and not trying to apply control to the public parade works best in the long run. Just let Americans be who we are. It all works. In some ways seeing my neighbors from the other side of the political aisle walk down the street waving brings me a feeling of unity not devisiveness. I hope there have not been safety issues that brought this to the front. Again, thank you hard-working volunteers. You are appreciated and I know you are only trying to make decisions you feel will work best. This year should be a great festival!



Posted by: Ian Emmott | Apr 30, 2018 07:04

Richard, excellent point.



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 29, 2018 18:50

Frances: Speaking of clowns, good for you ole boy. When was the last time you voted for a clown? To classify all politicians as clowns shows little or no respect. Some of them try to do a good job but get overtaken by the ones I believe you speak of. When you vote next time remember NOT to vote in a clown. As for the parade, this is a matter of being fair and equal to all. You should reconsider you voting record because surely enough you voted in some clowns. Good for you. You and Richard need to get together and spread some HOPE, TEAMWORK, and UNITY. Then you can be proud.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Apr 29, 2018 18:03

I'd rather see politicians in a parade than opening a door for me at the voting place. Nothing will change in politics until people understand that it should not be a vocation. Our forefathers went to congress for a term or two and went home to live their life. Now we have people that never had a real vocation. They just do whatever it takes to stay in office and live off the taxpayers so I seriously doubt banning them from a parade will do it. Let them March, the more clowns the merrier.



Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Apr 29, 2018 14:19

If they want to be really, really fair, they should exclude everyone.



Posted by: Elizabeth Dickerson | Apr 29, 2018 10:58

Considering the fact that the First Amendment of the constitution protects free speech, and that the streets and parks of Rockland are public places, the festival most likely cannot prohibit any political candidate or person who chooses to travel on Main Street holding a banner or a sign from so doing. They might be able to exclude entrants to the festival in terms of the fee collected, but I don't imagine they can stop anyone who chooses to simply participate in the parade on that basis. Also, the festival is a 501c3 organization that receives money from the City of Rockland, which is a public entity supported by taxpayer dollars, so that brings in another whole level. I understand the feelings that the festival board may have in terms of not wanting to engage in highly charged political discourse, but it's not clear to me that such exclusions can be made. Interested to know if anyone has called the ACLU.



Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Apr 29, 2018 10:51

Powell:  "We want to celebrate the lobster industry, celebrate the community and not necessarily make a political statement," she said."

Honestly, that's about as political a statement as can be made.  If the organization and event are indeed private, they should not be using the state name, which belongs to all citizens of Maine.

Also, I suspect the mainstream political organizations are not the primary target of the policy, but rather civil rights organizations and other advocacy groups.  Just speculating.



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 29, 2018 10:00

So if the Lobster Festival is a "secular" organization then why allow entries of a "religious" nature.  It seems a little bit odd that you would limit one and not the other.  After all  there were the two topics my Mother told me never to bring up in public (guess that didn't work).  I have always thought that the parade would be a lot more entertaining if you eliminated the hundreds of "business"  and "group" floats along with every fire truck from six counties. Make it a "shorter" event with clowns, marching bands and old soldiers.



Posted by: Dale Hayward | Apr 29, 2018 09:45

Well, well, well, here we go again. If only we could find some way to further divide the good folks who love all aspects of a parade. Not only the onlookers but the participants. Politics is apart of our nation and our heritage and deserves the respect and attention it draws be that popular or not. Politics is everywhere, everyday and shapes this nation. Whether we like it or not we need to support out political agenda for where would we be without it. Taking the position of treating politics as a nasty kind of intrusion or promoting something out of our dark side is shallow, belittling, and way, way, beyond the foundation of this nation. Running for political office is what many people see as their civic duty and for that they deserve to be seen and heard. Where does this become a private event when the general public are begged to participate with their cars, boat, trucks, bikes, floats from so many reaches of the community far and near. Fire trucks blasting their horns, while the ears get covered but the children relish the noise. So be it. Should we ban the honking of horns because someone is offended by the sound. Is the Rockland Lobster Festival, its legal name, in a position to have to take a stand on politics? What do they have to gain except a few people have a different personal agenda than did the directors for the first 69 years who apparently all together (the directors of all 69 festivals) never felt the "P" word was of such demeaning part of the festivity. Ms. Powell, I respect your opinion and thank you for your hard work but to make the statement: " We want to celebrate the lobster industry, celebrate the community and not necessarily make a political statement." she said. Pray tell just exactly what is the political statement presented by politicians marching peacefully, colorfully, happy, asking for support for their constitutional right and privilege to represent YOU and all the rest of us. My feeling is that you do not appreciate their putting themselves forward to the task at hand of running this city, county, state, and nation. They are apart of our process just like the firemen, policeman and all the rest of the folks that take the time and effort and expense to enjoy our parade. When we start to separate one group from another or others in a public forum and gathering we start to divide our classes of folks. Politicians may not be your best friend but their are your best representative to run this nation build on all of us working together for the betterment of all of us. Excluding anyone from a public forum is wrong and shows some type of deep seeded offensive connection. Mr. Weinard, which I seldom agree with and do not know is correct with :" I'll add that the Lobster Festival is not a 'private event,' since it is held in a City Park and the parade runs down City streets." Classifying one of us from the other is what we are taught NOT to do. Profiling any group for any reason for any degree is wrong. If the Yarmouth Clam Festival does not want some group let them make that decision on their own and be responsible. Just because the sky is white is some area, gray in others, let's let our be what it is. A blue sky is a happy sky, please do not create a storm. I recall in almost all parades I have watched in my 35 glamorous years in Rockland having seen many religious floats, well crafted, happy people and spreading their beliefs in good taste. Controversial subjects are only in the minds of those that make them controversial. Please do not rule our community by the short sighted personal faults of another. Show that we are better and more accepting of everyone. Have you not learned from our City Council that diversity is the cornerstone to a happy community. Reverse you decision and stop showing the prejudice of your organization. For the sake of correctness it is called the ROCKLAND LOBSTER FESTIVAL as incorporated by the Maine Secretary of State Corporation Division.



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Apr 29, 2018 08:16

Ron, the Festival has not banned religious entries. The policy states, however, that the Festival is a secular organization.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 29, 2018 07:03

Seeing the polarization think it is an excellent idea. Floats spreading HOPE, TEAMWORK AND UNITY.  So much happening locally to be proud of.



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