'Controlled chaos' threatens Chesapeake City's Canal Day tradition
By KRISTIN HARTY
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md. -- Amy Yarnall didn't attend Canal Day this year. She didn't want her children to see it.
"It's become just a time for partying and drinking in the boating area, but that affects the whole thing," said Yarnall, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, which raises money for its preschool during the festival. "People just traipse in with coolers and cases of beer all day long."
Started in 1975 as an arts festival to raise funds for local organizations, the event has become increasingly raucous. This year's Canal Day on June 30 brought an estimated 400 boats and 10,000 visitors to Chesapeake City, population 800.
Women lift their tops. Men go streaking.
"Clearly, it's lost its community and family focus," Yarnall said. "It's just gotten out of hand."
Town leaders intend to put a stop to it.
Last month, Mayor Bill Kiessling threatened to cancel Canal Day 2008 unless organizers can figure out how to tame it.
"Every year it's getting bigger and bigger and a little bit crazier," said Kiessling, who appointed a committee to explore solutions. "We're not trying to stop drinking or partying. But it is so dangerous. At times, it's just so scary out there."
See what people are saying about the possibility of changes to Canal Day.