Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Tux Turkel email@example.com
The go-cart accident that killed a Shriner last fall at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Parade apparently was caused by a mechanical failure with the cart, according to a just-completed police report.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rand Maker points to frame damage on the go-cart driven by Marvin Tarbox, who was killed last year when the vehicle was in an accident while he was performing a stunt in the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Parade.
Tux Turkel/Staff Writer
Marvin Tarbox, a member of the Anah Temple Shrine in Bangor, shown driving a go-cart in a parade, was killed last fall when his cart overturned while he was performing a ramp stunt in Newcastle during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. His memory is being honored May 20, when the Anah Shrine hosts the first Marvin Tarbox Memorial Drive.
Anah Shrine courtesy photo
FESTIVALS WEIGH GO-CART DECISION
Last year's death of a Shriner during a go-cart stunt at a parade in Damariscotta has generated varied reactions from parade and festival organizers in Maine.
YARMOUTH CLAM FESTIVAL
Yarmouth Clam Festival organizers made "an internal decision" not to host the Anah Shrine's ramp stunt this year, according to Mark Primeau, the event's director. Other motorized units will perform, however.
The Clam Festival is celebrating its 47th year, and has no evidence that go-carts present more risk than other attractions, according to Primeau, who recalled an accident during a bike race a few years ago. It does, however, require paraders to waive any liability claims against the town and carry insurance.
MAINE LOBSTER FESTIVAL
The Maine Lobster Festival also requires proof of insurance for participants in The Big Parade, which draws 25,000 people in early August. The festival has had the Anah Shrine ramp in the past, and plans no changes this year.
"It's very unfortunate that accidents happen and we do what we can to protect the participants, visitors and the festival as best we can," said Jen Chapman, a parade organizer.
OLD ORCHARD BEACH
In Old Orchard Beach, the town booked Kora Shrine units for its Memorial Day parade that include small, motorized motorcycles and cars. It has never hosted the ramp stunt.
"We haven't had any issues," said Kim McLaughlin, the town clerk. "No one has ever mentioned: 'They've come too close to us.' "
BOOTHBAY WINDJAMMER DAYS FESTIVAL
Officials at the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce are preparing for the 50th Windjammer Days Festival in late June. They have signed the clown unit from the Kora Shrine, but are still deciding whether to again include go-carts this year.
The choice will be based on the festival's budget, according to Catherine Wygant, the chamber's executive director, and not on the Damariscotta accident.
"This isn't a black mark or anything against the Kora carts," she said.
The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta will take place in early October.
It's unclear what impact last year's accident there is having on this year's plans. Contacted by the newspaper, a parade organizer said plans were still being discussed and referred questions to one of the event's top officials, who didn't return phone calls or emails.
-- Tux Turkel
Marvin Tarbox Jr., 59, of Hancock was driving the homemade cart during a performance in which drivers ascend a ramp attached to a moving SUV and come down the other side. The cart driven by Tarbox overturned, causing him to fall out and strike his head on the pavement. He then was hit by two following carts that had just gone up and over the customized 1990 Chevy Suburban.
Tarbox's cart overturned because the leading edge made contact with a cross member on the ramp, according to the accident report by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office in Wiscasset. The impact caused a weld on the ramp to fail, sending a section through the windshield of the Suburban.
The report was obtained by the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Details of the accident emerged just as Maine's parade season is about to begin. Members of Maine's two Shrine temples are gearing up now to entertain crowds at dozens of festivals and community events. It's a time-honored way that Shriners across the country raise money for a network of children's hospitals that they sponsor.
But last fall's tragedy raises questions about the safety of equipment and the level of training received by amateur drivers, as well as the practice of maneuvering speedy vehicles within feet of spectators, who sit on curbs along the parade routes.
In recent interviews, the leaders of Maine's two Shrines say they have good safety records and don't plan any noteworthy changes this year based on the isolated accident.
Anthony "Tony" Bowers, the potentate of the Anah Shrine in Bangor, said he's not aware of anyone in Maine being hit by a Shriner parade vehicle. Bowers also said he expects the ramp stunt, which is one of the Anah Shrine's most popular parade attractions, to continue. The Shrine's go-cart unit has transported it all over New England and is preparing to have a new ramp built if the existing one isn't released soon by police, so it can perform in parades this summer.
"Our insurance company hasn't said we couldn't, and nobody has filed any suits," Bowers said. "These guys are ready to go and continue raising money for the children."
The Lewiston-based Kora Shrine doesn't do a ramp stunt, but features several motorized units, including go-carts. Barry Gates, Kora's potentate, said the Shrine has been parading for a long time without incident, but is well aware of last year's accident.
"We're all very cognizant of the tragedy, and we're doing what we can so it doesn't happen again," he said.
NOT IN YARMOUTH
But last year's accident has prompted one of the state's largest events to cancel the ramp stunt. Officials at the Yarmouth Clam Festival say they would like to retain other Shriner vehicles that spectators enjoy, but are still deciding what to include in the July parade.
"Safety is our No. 1 thought when we select who's in our parade," said Courtney Kennedy, the volunteer parade director.
Parades are enjoyed each year by millions of people in the United States. While last year's Shriner accident in Maine was uncommon, it wasn't unprecedented.
• In 2007, a dune buggy that was being driven in circles during a parade in Chattanooga, Tenn., brushed another vehicle and ran into a crowd, injuring eight people.
• In 2008, four spectators, including two children, were injured when a go-cart lost control during a Fourth of July parade in Niles, Ill.
• In 2009, a Shriner hit his head and died after falling from a dune buggy during a Christmas parade in Bartlett, Tenn.
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