ERIC HEINZ, Los Angeles
The hissing sound of plastic wheels bolting through asphalt breaks the dawn’s silence every Independence Day in the Spanish Village by the Sea.
It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen, especially during a time where kneepads and extra protection are everywhere. This unbridled fanfare is a wonder to behold.
It’s the office chair races.
San Clemente’s least-kept secret has been a staple of Fourth of July week for a decade, give or take. As far as I know, there are no permits granted, no waivers, no paperwork whatsoever. It’s like the grandchild of lawn darts and other warning-label-inspiring shenanigans.
Whether it’s a lawn chair attached to a skateboard, a contraption of lackluster ingenuity or just a shopping cart, the office chair races each year draw hundreds of screaming, joyous fans to the fateful “intersection” of Avenidas Rosa and Victoria.
But it won’t last if cooler heads don’t prevail. Last year, while photographing the chair races, I spent about 15 minutes there before leaving because the cantankerous atmosphere was not worth busting my camera lens.
Maybe it’s just the hot weather, and maybe it’s just too early in the morning, but if the office chair races are to be appreciated, then a few more deep breaths and a cheerful attitude are in order.
The only way this miraculous event can take place is when people are able to police themselves—not the other way around.
There’s an ambulance and an officer who just show up, but it doesn’t appear to be a sanctioned event.
The heated emotions must be tempered if the event is to truly be the amazing event that it is.
If the office chair races are going to continue to be as entertaining as they can be, then some self-discipline is in order. By taking a few minutes to remember that it’s just a silly holiday event—they’re not even really a competition—we can keep the authorities’ peace of mind intact.
Happy Fourth of July, and may the office chair races prevail.
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