Charita Goshay: Why must a few always ruin it for everyone else?

·3 min read

If it is true that mathematics rules the universe, someone please explain the equation by which it only seems to take a few folks to spoil the fun for everyone else?

At last week's Light Up Downtown, the event was nearly ruined by someone who decided to bring a gun to a family-friendly event.

Give city officials deserve credit for their transparency and for addressing the incident head-on.

According to Mayor Thomas Bernabei, the shots were fired by a woman who was involved in a scuffle with others. She was quickly arrested.

If you feel the need to pack a pistol to visit Santa, it's time to reexamine your life choices.

Here's betting the scuffle began on social media — you can set your watch to it. But who brings beef to a venue where the worst thing you should expect to see is bad dancing by adults dressed as elves, taking full advantage of the DORA District?

Witnesses say some children were trampled when the crowd understandably panicked at the sound, but thankfully no one was seriously injured.

Until now, the biggest problem with Light Up Downtown has been the weather. The one year in which it's not a whiteout or a monsoon, and this happens.

There also were complaints of rowdy teenagers "tasing" one another. Such hooliganism only serves to hand a stick to people already skeptical of visiting downtown, though this marks the first hiccup in the decades that Light Up Downtown has been celebrated.

What happened last week is unfair to law-abiding people — the vast majority of Canton residents — who don't deserve to be lumped in with criminals and knuckleheads who can't seem to bear the idea of having a good time and going home.

Now, is it fair that people who think nothing of vacationing in New York or Las Vegas, won't give Canton the benefit of the doubt, especially now? No, but that's all the more reason such behavior can't ever be allowed to become the norm.

A city is more than buildings and streets. It's also made up of memories and moments and history. People tend to measure what they remember, against what they currently see. Their resultant attitude depends on how much that city has — or hasn't — progressed.

However, one can't argue that Canton's downtown hasn't leaped forward. While it may never return to its place as a shopping and entertainment mecca, nor has it been left for dead. Hundreds of people now live downtown. It's a magnet for small businesses. A hotel that was well on its way to becoming a hovel is now a showplace.

Centennial Plaza is a jewel that has to be experienced in person to be believed.

Yet once again, a community is only as successful as what it tolerates. It's the reason local drivers know better than to speed through North Canton, or why you'll be hard pressed to find much trash on the streets in Massillon — it goes against their common culture.

The only way to combat decline is to push back against it. Canton is too often viewed as a place where the law isn't so much broken as ignored.

But we have it within our power to stop such prophecy in its tracks.

Hats off to the families who returned downtown on Friday for the postponed fireworks. If we want the upward momentum to continue, we must be the kind of community where everyone knows that trouble won't be stood for; that if you bring a gun to a Christmas party, you're probably not going to get what you want from the Big Guy — but you're definitely going to get what you asked for.

Charita M. Goshay is a Canton Repository staff writer and a member of the editorial board. Reach her at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Charita Goshay: It only takes a few to ruin it for everyone

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