American Independence Day 2014: California town to clamp down on the traditional Ocean Beach Marshmallow War

The annual custom has attracted thousands in recent years, with a child and an elderly person injured last year

US Correspondent

There are many customs associated with America's Independence Day celebrations: fireworks, parades, family barbecues. But this year, the authorities in a Southern California beach town are trying to clamp down on one long-standing Fourth of July tradition: the annual Ocean Beach Marshmallow War.

It began in the mid-1980s, when two families hosting rival beach parties engaged in an impromptu food fight following the evening's fireworks display, flinging the spongy, sweet and apparently harmless projectiles back and forth on the sand.

Three decades later, however, the raucous and unregulated event draws thousands of eager marshmallow tossers to this small, hippie-friendly community near San Diego. By the morning of 5 July, the streets of Ocean Beach are coated in sticky white goo, and now the Ocean Beach Town Council is saying: “No S'more”.

A child and an elderly person were injured during last year's Marshmallow War, which caused thousands of dollars of damage and left more than 2,000 pounds of rubbish behind on the beach and nearby sidewalks. Denni Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach Main Street Association, told The Independent, “[The Marshmallow War] was really fun until it hit social media a few years ago. Now there's just too much mess to clean up. Last year we were astonished at the damage. It's like chewing gum, only worse. You can't get it off. It's still visible a year later.”

Ms Knox is one of many residents and business owners calling for an end to marshmallow-based hostilities. After the July 2013 food fight, local news website the OB Rag suggested the town's “funky-hippy vibe” had “taken a turn toward anarchy.” Last September, the council passed a resolution demanding an end to the event, though it has no legal authority to prevent it.

Instead, police are being asked to enforce littering and vandalism laws during the Independence Day celebrations, and local shops urged not to sell the sugary treats. Last year, some revellers reportedly came armed with marshmallows that were frozen, flaming or loaded with heavier objects such as batteries. On Friday evening, the council intends to dispatch a volunteer force of peacekeepers to the war zone to appeal to participants to lay down their marshmallows.

At a press conference at the town's veteran's memorial on Tuesday, council president Gretchen Newsom reiterated the council's anti-war slogan, “Mallow Out”, telling reporters the Marshmallow War has “gotten completely out of control. It has desecrated our memorial… It's time for our community to clean itself up.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Soft Developer (4.0, C#, Windows Services, Sockets, LINQ, WCF)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer (4.0, C#, Windows ...

C# Developer -Winforms, VB6 - Trading Systems - Woking

£1 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading financial software house with its He...

C #Programmer (.Net 4.0/4.5/ C#) -Hertfordshire-Finance

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C #Developer (.Net 4.0/4.5/ C#, A...

JQuery Developer JQuery, UI, Tomcat, Java - Woking

£1 per annum: Harrington Starr: JQuery Developer JQuery, UI, Tomcat, Java - Tr...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home