Letter to the Editor

Boo to being forced to give up seat at cheer event

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To the Editor:

I recently attended a Pitbull concert. A concert at which tickets were general admission only. But after hours in line, the time spent was well paid off, because by eight o'clock that night only five feet separated us from the famous Latino artist.

Similarly, I attended the Putnam County Fair cheerleading competition, an event that was likewise general admission -- as nearly all cheerleading events are. After a long line, a few bucks and a generic "starfish" stamp on my hand, we were through the gate.

It was nearly a full house, but my group was able to find seats in the sea of Pendleton Heights fans. Among the four of us were three North Putnam graduates and one South Putnam graduate. Coincidentally, there were several more South Putnam graduates sitting in front of us.

However, despite the fact that the event was general admission, we were forced to give up our seats.

Soon after we were seated, a frantic Pendleton Heights mother was pressing to know whether we attended Pendleton Heights. We informed her that we had already graduated high school.

After the mother's prolonged protest, Denna Delacruz, a Heritage Lake police officer, informed us we were not to sit there. We were provided with this explanation: "It is because of the spirit award."

This justification was quite puzzling and we questioned whether quantity wouldn't be beneficial regarding such an award. Furthermore, we were not obnoxiously dressed in spirit wear, nor were we holding distracting signs for opposing schools. We were unobtrusive and causing no problems.

Although general admission refers to seating or standing areas that are unassigned and occupied on a first-come, first-served basis, we agreed to abide by the unwritten "rule."

We were appalled, as were several other North Putnam fans, that a general admission event such as this one would allow their local police officers to force Putnam County residents to sacrifice their seats. By default, we hesitantly sat in an alternate section that was not ours -- the result of a fully occupied North Putnam and South Putnam section.

Shockingly, Denna did not ask us to move, nor were there any complications, and, because I know you are all nervously wondering, the spirit award did go on.

The way I see it, my "starfish" stamp had neither a row, nor a seat number and I, nor anyone else, should not be bullied into giving up my seat as Rosa Parks was 59 years ago.

Audrey Healey