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Texas pinata ban has residents fuming

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a Houston district that is at least 26 percent Latino, banning piņatas from public parks seems unusually harsh. However, Houston's piņata ban has been on the books for six years and recently, new signs reminding residents of the ban appeared at parks throughout the district. Many residents are angry.

HOUSTON, TX (Catholic Online) - The signs recently came out in Houston's 4th precinct to remind locals of the ordinance which reads: "All party favors containing paper, confetti, rice, silly string, glitter, or other filling which is designed to pop/break/shatter or otherwise burst and litter our parks are prohibited. This shall include but is not limited to: poppers, piņatas, confetti eggs, and silly string."

The goal is to prevent litter in the parks, but many feel the signs unfairly target a popular Latino tradition, which is letting children celebrate special occasions with a piņata. 

Pinatas came to Mexico from Spain (current belief is that they originated in China and were introduced to Europe) and were originally popularized as a teaching tool for children. Designed with seven spikes representing the seven deadly sins, children were challenged to destroy the sins with a stick in exchange for a reward. 

Today, pinatas have evolved from their religious history into a part of the rich cultural heritage that Latinos share. 

Public parks are places where people are permitted to assemble and engage in lawful activities. While littler is unlawful, there's no reason why piņatas should unduly contribute to excessive littering. Certainly, picnics and other activities have equal potential to result in litter and wear on park facilities, and they do, but ultimately, that's what the parks are for. 

And the banning of specific cultural practices that are of no harm to others is especially galling. 
Last Friday, Houston officials agreed to remove the signs in the face of overwhelming public backlash. However, the ordinance as written remains in effect. 

Mark Seegars, a spokesperson for Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle told local media, "We don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. The signs are coming down while we review the best way to put the message out to people that we need their help in keeping litter out of the parks."
County commissioners are expected to take up the issue later in the year. 

Learn to make your own pinata here!

 

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