Archive for Monday, August 17, 2009

Civil War re-enactors actually declined Lawence visit because of ban on firing blanks

Re-enactors say ban on blanks was real reason for missing Civil War celebration

August 17, 2009


Civil War re-enactment called off

Those who were hoping to see a battle royal at South Park were disappointed, as a Civil War re-enactment was canceled. Enlarge video

Maybe they could have just yelled “bang!”

A group of Civil War re-enactors were faced with that prospect last Saturday after City Hall leaders unexpectedly told them that they could not fire their weapons with blank ammunition as part of a re-enactment event for the community’s Civil War on the Western Frontier.

Members of the re-enactment group on Monday said those City Hall concerns were the reason the event scheduled for South Park was canceled on Saturday, not because of weather or any scheduling conflicts as was originally intimated by a spokeswoman with the Lawrence Visitors Center.

“We had this on our calendar of events a long, long time ago,” said Brian Cox, a captain for the 9th Texas Volunteer Infantry re-enactment group. “We really wanted to come.”

But Cox said in order to perform any sort of meaningful re-enactment it was going to be necessary to fire at least some blank rounds of ammunition.

Jonathan Douglass, interim city clerk, said the city was notified about one week before the scheduled event that there would be the firing of blank ammunition and a re-enactment of a “skirmish.” Prior to that, the city was under the impression that the event was going to be more of a living history demonstration where the public could view individuals in Civil War dress and view some weapons and artifacts of the time.

“This came up late enough that there really wasn’t time to have enough discussion about the policy,” Douglass said.

He said staff members had concerns that the amount of noise the event may create would be too much for the homes, churches and funeral parlor that surround South Park.

The park does host an artillery group once per year that fires off blank shells as part of a City Band concert that features patriotic music. But Douglass said the length of the re-enactment event made staff members more concerned about the noise issues in this case.

Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she would like the city to consider how re-enactments could work in the future. The community may want to play host to several as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins in 2011. Billings is hoping to have a host of events that will land Lawrence national publicity as the birthplace of the Civil War.

“We need to tell our part of the story, and that includes events and re-enactments,” Billings said. “People love re-enactments.”

City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said he’s open to having that discussion because he thinks such heritage-based tourism can be an important part of the Lawrence economy. But he also said the community may need to do a better of job of planning such events in the future to ensure that they don’t catch anyone by surprise.

Billings said the current Civil War on the Western Frontier event lacks a true organizing force. She said she hopes the Watkins Community Museum of History will be able to eventually take over that role once its new board becomes settled.


MeAndFannieLou 8 years, 10 months ago

Good! Anyone who lives within a two-block radius of South Park now doesn't have to live with two days of sporadic, unpredictable, canon fire. In years past my dogs would reach a point when they'd refuse to go outdoors at all- and that can be really, really bad. I never could believe that this was permitted in a city park with dense housing that nearby.

Practicality 8 years, 10 months ago


Maybe the City should worry less about blank cartridges from a re-enactment and more about the real bullets flying around here on any given night.

Seriously, I have attended many re-enactments, and they are a lot of fun, especially for the kids. Where else can a kid witness a bunch of adults pretending they are in a battle? The noise argument seems kind of absurd, considering it wouldn't have lasted long, and all the other events that occur at South Park can hardly be considered silent. What next, ban KU football games because they are too noisy? Another fine job City Commissioners, I guess only hippy friendly events are allowed in Lawrence these days.

kansasfire911 8 years, 10 months ago

Omg not the animals! Hey SHUT UP you got your firework ban for the freakin animals. Its no the glorification of war, its the history of our city so that we may never forget those that have gone before us.

persevering_gal 8 years, 10 months ago

"...the city was under the impression that the event was going to be more of a living history demonstration where the public could view individuals in Civil War dress and view some weapons and artifacts of the time."

One word city hall leaders, "reenactment". It means to act out a past event not to provide a fashion show. I admit, the location is probably not the greatest spot for it, but you should have at least known what would have been involved.

beatrice 8 years, 10 months ago

The Woodstock reenactment hippies group stopped a war, man!

Shane Garrett 8 years, 10 months ago

Reads like the City Commission held their meeting at the head shop. There is no glory in war. This is why we must remember. This is why we should never forget our countrys' greatest struggle.

5thgeneration 8 years, 10 months ago

Oh, but the cannon fire will continue, as it does every year, during the William Tell Overture Finale performance. The re-enactment was a far cry from a "glorification of war"......... it was a living history display. I agree with Practicality. I think that we should move to ban the loudspeaker usage during the football games on the hill. I live in the 500 block of Indiana, and can hear that noise as plain as day during home games. We should also cancel all parades, as they cause traffic congestion, and can be temporarily inconvenient. Lastly, let's also ban asphalt maintenance. The machines are very noisy, and the smell of tack oil and new asphalt repulses me.

mom_of_three 8 years, 10 months ago

Heck, during the 4th of July, I hear a constant barage of fireworks for several hours for several days. We live with everyone else disobeying the law, and so does the poor dogs. I think everyone around SOuth Park could have survived for two days for a re-enactment.

Honoringthose 8 years, 10 months ago

To invite a group to your City to perform a given function - then tell them - oh, you can't perform that function - but come anyway - and then - when they decide not to come as it would serve no real purpose - THEN to try and lay the blame on them for "not coming" - well - that's pretty sad.

Aileen Dingus 8 years, 10 months ago

Irksome. The Civil War was a bloody, gun-filled, bullet-ridden chunk of our American history. To assume that a "re-enactment" would be anything more than an outside museum exhibit is foolish.

People can see "Civil War dress" and "some weapons and artifacts of the time" in books and in museums and books, but feeling the thunder of a line of rifles (even those firing blanks) brings the war "home" in a more visceral manner.

Go to Gettysburg on July 3rd tumbilweed- see what "glory" a massed artillery barrage shows. Talk to any serious re-enactor and I doubt you'd find one that does what he (or she) does to glorify war.

Practicality 8 years, 10 months ago

Barking dogs and crying babies disrupt my tranquility when I am at South Park, can we ban them too?

jaywalker 8 years, 10 months ago

Not much of a re-enactment without the sound of gunfire. What were they supposed to do? Shout "bang!" "bang!"?

GardenMomma 8 years, 10 months ago

I love the word "actually" in the headline. It cracks me up, they were actually declined as if no one else is ever declined something here.

"Civil War re-enactors actually declined Lawence visit because of ban on firing blanks"

kssux 8 years, 10 months ago

Maybe they could burn Lawrence again?

Dan Thalmann 8 years, 10 months ago

I can't figure Lawrence out. So progressive in so many ways, and yet so backwards in others. The Civil War was obviously such a watershed event in U.S. history and Lawrence is an appropriate venue for a reenactment. Sounds like censorship of history to me. Is that what tumbilweed wants? If someone near Memorial Stadium isn't a fan of the Jayhawks, could they ask the crowds to hush up when a touchdown is scored? Lame.

John Hamm 8 years, 10 months ago

City Hallites worry about the most senseless things. Here it is the 17th of August and I hear firecrackers going off in the student ghetto surrounding me - are they "worried" about that? I seriously doubt it! A Civil War reenactment? NO! Fireworks in August? Ahhh, who's it gonna bother. Talk about "lack of priorities and direction" it seems to be centered in City Hall.

Matt Needham 8 years, 10 months ago

I won't miss it, but I wonder why it's an issue this time. I've lived within a few blocks of South Park for many years, and they've always shot cannons and blanks before.

woodenfleaeater 8 years, 10 months ago

Well, if they're firing blanks, you won't have to worry about the next generation of Civil War re-enactors making so much noise!

cowboy 8 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence is so sphinctered up any more.

Had the opportunity to visit DC on Vets day and went to Arlington to watch Clinton place a wreath , listening to the cannon salute as the motorcade came in will make any person with a beating heart take note of the massive sacrifices that have been made. Tour any Civil War Battleground and you can feel the pain that was present. To reenact these events is a tribute to all involved and the city is remiss to put their namby pamby restrictons on them. How pathetic can this place get.

Jim Williamson 8 years, 10 months ago

Once again, the Lawrence City Council makes itself look naive, silly and just plain dopey.

CLARKKENT 8 years, 10 months ago


seriouscat 8 years, 10 months ago

This irks me. The central, downtown area of a city is going to be a noisy place and people who live there ought to be aware of this, and when conditions require, make adjustments to their lives where necessary.

The woman who complained about the noise by her house in the middle of downtown reminds me of former neighbors who constantly complained and shot dirty looks at another neighbor who would work on his Harley on the weekend and they didn't like the noise.

You live in a house that is downtown and across the street from what is essentially 'city park'! Noise during the middle of the day is fair game and it is absolutely ridiculous to expect or require community activities nearby to change for you because you want quiet in the middle of the day in the middle of the city.

Lawrence holds a proud place with the role it played in Civil War history and should advertise it, reenact it, educate about it, and celebrate it. Loudly.

MeAndFannieLou 8 years, 10 months ago

I always thought they should do it somewhere where there aren't houses so near (as in right on) the park - Dad Perry Park comes to mind, or somewhere out at Clinton Lake.

For me the issue was my dogs, but for other people in the neighborhood it was babies trying to sleep, windows rattling, just in general trying to go about your life and not knowing when the canons were going to be fired. The 1812 Overture? Not a problem at all - we always know when it's going to be and how long it's going to last and can plan accordingly. The Civil War reenactors always said they would fire the canons according to some schedule, but they never did.

And as for fireworks on the 4th - I was (and said so at the City Commission meetings) for allowing fireworks on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of July, if the ban before the 2nd and after the 4th could be enforced, but apparently it couldn't be. Believe it or not, some of us are more than willing to give and take. It's the folks on the other side who are only willing to take and take and take, and they're the ones who ruin fun things for the rest of us.

remember_username 8 years, 10 months ago

I don't know. Can you imagine how absolutely hilarious it would be if they all had to yell "Bang" when firing their weapons. Or a bunch of guys around a cannon...1..2..3.."BOOM!", and a group of the opposition all fall down. I'd be clawing at the grass laughing my head off.

Instead of South Park just relocate it down closer to the river. Isn't there a mud fort down there already?

Practicality 8 years, 10 months ago

logrithmic (Anonymous) says…

"A buncha stupid low lifes want to come to our town, make a lot of racket in South Park . . . "

Why Loggie, I thought you would have liked Art in the Park?

puddleglum 8 years, 10 months ago

shooting blanks is a serious problem for some friends of mine. They want to have children, but the civil war wouldn't let them do that either. I also heard that smoking too many doobies can make you shoot blanks

Practicality 8 years, 10 months ago

Now Loggie,

Just because it isn't an Anarchist Rally or a Hemp Rally doesn't mean it isn't important.

I think a slavery re-enactment would be just as educational as the battle re-enactment or an Underground Railroad re-enactment. All great ideas. Anything that gets people excited about history I agree with.

Practicality 8 years, 10 months ago

puddleglum (Anonymous) says…

"I also heard that smoking too many doobies can make you shoot blanks"

Ahhh. now I understand Loggies venom towards this article

EarthaKitt 8 years, 10 months ago

I would count myself among those would would prefer not to have my kids see a bunch of adults pretend to kill each other and not to see my dog too scared to go outside for three days. I'm just not sure what a re-enactment gives us above and beyond a museum exhibit that would more accurately portray Civil War events. Trust me, I'm not a hippie granola parent. But the re-enactment seems weird to me because a.) it kind of gives mixed messages to kids; and b.) it looks downright silly.

As for the 1812 Overture in the park, it's a ten minute event on one night of the year. That's why it differs for me. And even though it commemorates a different war, couldn't we all just throw our "We will never forget" enthusiasm behind it. It never fails to bring me to tears.

And a question, is the Civil War the only one folks re-enact? Do they do D-Day in France? Do they conduct Holocaust re-enactments in Eastern Europe? I'm not (intentionally) being a jerk. I'm seriously asking.

somedude20 8 years, 10 months ago

funny how people who dress up as knights and queens and play their LARP are called nerds yet people who dress up in civil war (whats so civil bout war anyway) army junk are re-enactors. I do not really see a different

MeAndFannieLou 8 years, 10 months ago

Well if it needs to be so GD authentic, let 'em use live ammunition.

Jim Williamson 8 years, 10 months ago

"...You can tell the stupidity of the poster when he refers to this sub-culture, the last of which disappeared from prominence in this nation in the early 70s..."

Have you been downtown lately?

Hippies are now our mayors, city councilmen and county commissioners.

You're clearly confused on what a hippie is.

Aileen Dingus 8 years, 10 months ago

EarthaKitt "And a question, is the Civil War the only one folks re-enact? Do they do D-Day in France? "

Um- yes. Yes they do. Let me Google that for you:{0C4221BD-6C60-4181-A0E3-FAD54808F03B}

Some of those were here in the US, but I do know they also do American CW re-enactments in Europe.

vegas3 8 years, 10 months ago

If the re-enactors would have ridden bicycles and.....

standuporget 8 years, 10 months ago

hillbilly_jim says

75x55, Although you poke fun at my moniker, all I did was put hillbilly in front of my name. You should not be one to talk about monikers, since all you did was use your pants size. I'm sill laughing. lol - lmao

BigPrune 8 years, 10 months ago

Is it okay to use a pistol to start a bicycle race, or any race for that matter in town? What do they use in Lawrence since it is illegal?

Obvious this has "Progressive" written all over it. Don't tell me the use of guns firing blanks in war re-enactments promote violence or glorify war, probably the reason why they were outlawed.

Lawrence KS where the loons rule the roost.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 10 months ago

They could do re-enactments of the Stalinist purges instead.

They would be quieter.

MrCitizen 8 years, 10 months ago

Do accusatory, venomous diatribes fail convince your opponents? Do you find yourself irritated by the stupidity of others? Having trouble promoting egotistic save-the-world-from-itself agendas? Then get a job and you'll have little time to bother with these nonsensical rants.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 10 months ago

Would it be so wrong to tweak history just a bit and let women be in uniform and fire weapons? Why do the guys get all the fun? I was looking forward to this event. I talked to my cat about the fireworks and he is okay with that, but can't take thunder. He didn't mind though when the cannons went off at the concert. I accept him as he is.

Aileen Dingus 8 years, 10 months ago

Irish- it wouldn't be tweaking history at all. Lots of women served in the Civil War, even in the infantry.

yankeevet 8 years, 10 months ago

why not put up a movie screen; and just show the movie Ride with the Devil; Gettysburg; or refreshments; etc................

Staci Dark Simpson 8 years, 10 months ago

OMG! Is this not the dumbest thing I have ever heard? What exactly did they think was going to happen at a battle reenactment? Kudos Lawrence! You won the jackass award again.

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