Reports of campers tenting in Chagrin Falls village parks and even the stairway to the falls, have been a regular addition to the police blotter and town gossip this summer.
They and their tent have shown up in Riverside Park, Triangle Park and on both landings of the stairway to the falls.
As the story goes, locals have seen them early in the morning stretching, yawning and scratching as they emerge from beneath their canvas. Sometimes they are up and about drinking their morning coffee before making their exit out of town.
My initial bleeding heart reaction was these were not campers but folks forced to live outdoors since losing their jobs and homes as result of the pandemic. Someone should check on them to see what could be done to get them under a roof again before our blue sky summer turned to cold dark winter.
But empathy for the situation I imagined was put on hold when we learned there is something of a sub-urban legend surrounding these “campers.”
As the reliable source’s story goes, these are not people in trouble but a couple of anarchists out to make trouble by camping on village property to demonstrate their disdain for government, the laws it makes and the police officers who are sworn to enforce them.
Besides, it is pointed out, real campers would have chosen Whitesburg Nature Preserve or out-of-the-way River Run Park to commune with nature. Who camps 3 feet from a busy sidewalk?
As it turns out, the camping anarchists need not have bothered with their show of defiance for the law because local laws are murky about using downtown Chagrin Falls for their own private Yellowstone.
The campouts are just a “nay-nay-nay we found a loophole” poke in the eye of local government. So while some among us are worried about Marxists, socialists and communists gaining political power, it is the anarchists who are practicing their “faith” right under our noses.
On Monday, Village Council was to have passed new laws specific to overnight use of public parks and rights of way. Camping is NOT among the allowed activities. Boy Scouts are exempt from the prohibition.
Will it work? Will the downtown campers fold their tent and disappear for good? Watch this space. Better yet, watch the police blotter.
If nothing else, the camping sons of anarchy have taken the heat off the downtown Chagrin Falls motorcycle guys, who used to be the town villains. Now they are poised to be heroes and role models. What?
On a unrelated motorcycle matter, one summer Sunday, not too long ago, a loud continuous and indescribably obnoxious sound descended on Chagrin Falls. It could be heard far and wide and went on for way too long for all who heard it.
Turns out this new-to-town motorcycle rider had come to show off his bike’s “amplified muffler,” an oxymoron if ever there was one.
For whatever reason, local police either do not have a decibel meter or it was not available at the time the “big noise” hit town or the man and machine noise maker might have been cited for disturbing the peace.
With a little peer pressure, he may not come back. Or if he does he will do it in a quieter bike.
Seems Chagrin Falls’ own motorcycle-riding, Starbuck-drinking, sidewalk-lingering, sometime wolf-whistling regulars know all about the recent ruckus on Main Street and they are not happy.
They intend to have a word with the ruckus-maker if he returns. Afterall, “it makes us all look bad,” one of the regular riders is quoted as saying.