Ruining the fun for everyone

The SE Texas Record Oct. 31, 2011, 6:42am

Elementary schools all across America have canceled recess. Some even have removed playground equipment.

No more slides, swings or merry-go-rounds. No place for kids to burn off excess energy and have some fun.

Why? Fear of lawsuits, for one thing. School officials know that if a kid gets hurt on the playground there's a good chance the parents will sue. School districts cannot absorb the impact of a substantial judgment against them, and the costs of litigation can be prohibitive even when the district wins.

In the risk-free, painless world that people seem to expect nowadays, there's just little room for fun.

Now municipalities are running scared and canceling festivities that have been enjoyed by tens of thousands for decades.

The city of Beaumont recently canceled its annual Christmas Parade. The decision was due in part to renovations ongoing in Riverfront Park, but increased insurance costs from past lawsuits forced the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce to withdraw its sponsorship.

Last year, Albert and Stephanie Carter filed suit in Jefferson County District Court against the Beaumont Chamber. The Carters contended that the local business group, as sponsor and manager of the 2008 Christmas Holiday Festival & Parade, was responsible for an accident that killed their daughter.

Eleven-year-old Aaliyah had performed with her dance troupe at the Beaumont Civic Center during the 2008 festivities and later ridden on a parade float with fellow dancers. She'd jumped off the float and was running alongside it when she tripped, fell beneath it, and suffered fatal head injuries.

Tragic though the death of their daughter was, the Carters did not specify a single act of negligence on the part of the Beaumont Chamber.

As we noted in an editorial last November, "there ought to be a better way to honor the memory of a child than by suing an innocent party and as a possible result causing the cancellation of a parade that thousands of families watch, participate in, and enjoy."

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