published Monday, December 19th, 2011

Jasper worried over parade vendors darting in and out of traffic

By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent

JASPER, Tenn. -- Several Jasper city officials noticed something odd at the town's annual Christmas parade Dec. 3.

Unlicensed street vendors hawking items like lighted toys and balloons were darting in and out of the parade traffic, selling to every buyer they could find.

Police Chief Tim Graham said he doesn't know who the vendors were or where they came from, but the town needs to "look into it" because they were a safety concern, if nothing else.

"There was one vendor last year," he said. "This year I counted at least four."

Mayor Billy Simpson said none of the vendors bought a license from the city to sell their products during the parade.

Alderman Chip Wampler said he would prefer to ban the vendors at the Christmas parade.

"I don't know who they were, but they cost me about 20 bucks," he said. "I just think it's a big safety issue anyway. It doesn't benefit this city in any way because the money is leaving just as soon as the parade is over."

City Attorney Mark Raines said forcing the vendors to purchase a license might curtail the problem.

Officials said a peddler's license in Jasper costs $20, and the board may look into increasing that price substantially.

In other cities, a peddler's license can cost up to $100 per day for each vendor, Wampler said.

"We require everyone else to purchase a permit, and they should have to have one too," he said.

"When you get right back to it, if we start allowing it, we'll be covered up with it," Simpson said. "We need to look into this."

"If we don't nip this in the bud, we're going to have a bunch [of vendors] out there [next year]," Alderman Steve Looney said.

Raines said he will investigate the issue and report back to the board at its next meeting Jan. 9.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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