SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — Some residents in San Clemente believe an annual Fourth of July office chair race has become a dangerous, drunken free-for-all.
Eric Orr and Kika Wattenburg haven’t missed the long-cherished neighborhood tradition, where people race modified office chairs through the streets, in the past eight years.
This year, however, things were different when nearly 1,000 people descended on the street and reportedly became unruly.
“A lot more fights, a lot more drinking…a lot of underage drinking,” said Orr.
“This year it really got out of hand,” said Wattenburg. “I’d like for it to continue if they can get a better handle on it. But I don’t know how.”
A neighbor, who wished to remain unidentified out of fear, said she wrote a letter to the city begging for help after revelers walked through her front gates and used her garage and front yard as a restroom.
“I just felt like I had to guard my property, and people were coming through my gate onto my private property and peeing in my garage,” she said.
Jennifer Butler and Sharon Turner started the event eight years ago to raise money for a local food bank.
“It brings a lot of people to the community to spend money, to help the local merchants. And, okay, some things happened this year outside of our influence that we couldn’t do anything about,” said Turner.
The organizers said the race is not sanctioned by the city, which is why they require riders to sign a release.
“We tried to keep it as safe and organized as possible. It’s pretty tough. We don’t have a lot of help other than just the neighbors,” said Butler.
Mayor Bob Baker told KCAL9’s Stacey Butler that it’s too early to tell what action the city will take. He said the chief of police and the city manager are looking into the race.