Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tonganoxie dismisses case against green stripe ‘leprechaun’

Riding the float of Grand Leprechauns, past and present, are from left, Debbie Breuer, Kay Soetaert, Harold Denholm, Clarence Kelly, Walter Lee Denholm (waving) Bo Himpel, John McCaffrey and Don Pelzl at this year's St. Patrick's Day parade Saturday in downtown Tonganoxie. Pelzl was this year's Grand Leprechaun, while others on the float served as the honorary parade marshals in previous years.

Riding the float of Grand Leprechauns, past and present, are from left, Debbie Breuer, Kay Soetaert, Harold Denholm, Clarence Kelly, Walter Lee Denholm (waving) Bo Himpel, John McCaffrey and Don Pelzl at this year's St. Patrick's Day parade Saturday in downtown Tonganoxie. Pelzl was this year's Grand Leprechaun, while others on the float served as the honorary parade marshals in previous years.

April 16, 2014

The case of the green stripe appears to be closed.

Tonganoxie resident Charlie “Tuna” Conrad was to appear in municipal court Wednesday after being cited in March for criminal damage to property, painting a traditional green line down Fourth Street hours before the annual St. Patrick’s Parade.

But the case against "Tuna" has been thrown out, City Attorney Mike Kelly said.

Conrad won’t be making an appearance in court and no fines will be levied against him, Kelly said Wednesday afternoon.

Conrad said he received a letter from Kelly telling him the case had been dismissed. It included a copy of the citation and informed Conrad he would not need to do anything further with the case.

Kelly later told Conrad by phone that the case was dropped at the city attorney’s discretion, according to Conrad. He contacted Kelly because he wanted to know why it was dismissed, Conrad said.

Conrad was painting a green line early March 15 down Fourth Street per Tonganoxie St. Patrick’s Parade tradition when an officer stopped Conrad and cited him for criminal damage to property.

Various people have taken on work as Tonganoxie "leprechauns" and painted the green line annually since the late John McCaffrey started the parade, and the tradition, in the late 1980s.

City Administrator Nathan McCommon said the painted line is a code violation, though he said the line still can be painted in future years if an alternative substance — colored tape, chalk or washable paint — were used.

The citation caused a stir on social media and in the community, with many residents expressing opposition to it.

Another green line was painted, apparently in protest, a few days later on Fourth Street between Church and Green streets. Conrad said he didn’t paint the second line.

Jim McCaffrey, one of John McCaffrey’s sons, said he supplied the paint for Conrad’s line this year and also in years past. He declined to comment whether he had involvement with the second stripe that appeared after the citation.

City crews later used a power washer to remove all the paint.

As for future St. Patrick’s parades, Conrad said, the community needs to come together and continue the longstanding tradition.

“I think we’ve got to get past this time here and let people cool off,” Conrad said.

He said the event’s committee has seen much turnover during recent years. The committee needs some stability and preparations for the event must start earlier, Conrad said.

And the green line?

Conrad thinks it should stay. He said he dilutes the paint by mixing 3 gallons of water with 1 gallon of paint.

“We’re not trashing our town on purpose,” Conrad said. “That line’s not made to stay there for a year when I’m involved with it.”

He said the parade and festivities surrounding it always bring “a great turnout.”

He just wants it to continue on with the same spirit of fun.

“It’s just a communications deal,” Conrad said about the latest controversy. “I don’t think it’s a fault of anybody.”

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