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City requiring permit for alternative Thanksgiving event
UPDATE: City Attorney Kathleen Dooley notified Rabah Sbitani he could be violating the law if he pressed ahead with his Thanksgiving event without the city’s OK, according to documents I obtained today.
Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Director Karen Hedelt told Sbitani she was concerned about his Thanksgiving morning event out of concern for public safety when city resources would be busy with the larger YMCA Turkey Trot.
UPDATE: See our poll below.
Fredericksburg officials have notified downtown resident Rabah Sbitani that he needs a city-issued permit to hold the event he promoted online last year after the 19-year tradition of the Turkey Trot announced it was moving from downtown.
That event became known as a “rogue” event and was expected again this year.
The official run, a 5K race organized by the YMCA, moved to Central Park last November after crowds got too big for downtown streets.
Sbitani wanted to continue his family’s tradition of a Thanksgiving morning stroll through downtown so he announced through Facebook in 2012 that he would be doing that and many others – an estimated 150 people – joined in.
He started another Facebook page this year, prompting city officials to respond.
City code states that any event involving 20 or more people on city streets or sidewalks needs a special event permit.
I’m fleshing out this story and will have more details later. In the meantime, take our poll on the matter.