Ocean Beach officials claim a win in battle to end 'marshmallow war'

Ocean Beach officials claim a win in battle to end 'marshmallow war'
Officials claim success for the "Mallow Out" campaign to end the marshmallow war that left streets in Ocean Beach a gooey mess after last year's Fourth of July. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Civic leaders in Ocean Beach claimed success Saturday for the Mallow Out campaign to curb the "marshmallow war" tradition that left streets gooey and unsightly after last year's Fourth of July celebration.

Some marshmallows were tossed by youthful revelers after the conclusion of Friday night's fireworks display, but officials estimated that it represented a 90% reduction from last year.


"There was still a war but it was scaled way back," said San Diego Councilman Ed Harris, who represents Ocean Beach. "The Ocean Beach community really came together."

While some people were tossing marshmallows, others were busy picking them up "so you didn't have that recycling of ammunition," said Harris, who termed the Mallow Out effort "a huge success."

Civic leaders had urged merchants not to sell marshmallows and the marshmallow "guns" that turn the candy blobs into projectiles. "Peace Patrol" volunteers were on the beach Friday night to urge calm after the fireworks.

The night was "a shadow of its former self," according to Frank Gormlie, editor of the OB Rag news website:

"Compared to last year, there were no marshmallows thrown before the fireworks, none thrown during the fireworks, and after the explosions and light show, it took a few moments before the first white globs were seen in the air."

By 7 a.m. Saturday, volunteers from the I Love a Clean San Diego group and the Surfrider Foundation were busy cleaning the beach and the adjacent street. But the mess was far reduced from previous years.

"You don't have marshmallows rolling in the surf like last year," Harris said.

A tradition since the mid-1980s, the Fourth of July tossing of marshmallows had gotten larger and messier in recent years and spread from the beach to adjacent streets.

After last year's "war," the city's Town Council - a private, nonprofit group - called for an end to the tradition, a move backed by the San Diego Police Department.

Town Council member Dave Cieslak said that he spotted only a scattering of marshmallows on the beach and streets and none in Veterans Plaza where plaques honoring veterans are embedded in the sidewalk.

Volunteers kept watch at Veterans Plaza to make sure there was not a repeat of last year when marshmallows plopped on plaques.

"We're very proud of the community and glad businesses and residents came together for a safe and fun Fourth," Cieslak said.