WEST ATHENS — The zany floats, children’s kazoo bands, hippie flowers and colorful Samba dancers won’t be on Valley Road this year for the annual Fourth of July parade.

Neither will the loud trucks burning tires, the heavy drinking, the drug taking and the bloody fighting.

Organizers of the parade and annual satirical play cited the problems last summer when they canceled the events late last year.

What began in the early 1970s and continued for more than 40 years, ground to a halt in 2011 when state and county police and an ambulance responded to reports of fighting on the Valley Road.

What began as peace and love, ended in a mixture of “bath salts,” signs promoting public nudity, drug paraphernalia sales and fist fights.

No arrests were made last year, but two people were taken to the hospital.

Some residents of West Athens, where the parade and the play in a local gravel pit by In Spite of Life Players had been welcome for generations, said the rowdiness that started a few years earlier had become intolerable.

More than 50 residents of West Athens petitioned the Athens Board of Selectmen, asking them to bar the parade this year. Two public hearings were held on the subject.

In the end, parade participants decided to end it themselves.

“If we have respect for the residents of West Athens — they have requested that we stop the parade — then I think the parade needs to stop, at least temporarily,” said Tamar Etingen, one of the original parade participants and set designers, last year.

 

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