To the Editor:
Re: “Beast Escapes the Fire in Annual Dragon Day Festivities,” News, March 18
I feel that a voice should be given to the opinions of many Cornellians and Ithacans with regard to the recent attack on Dragon Day traditions. I have been in correspondence with Assemblywoman Lifton and various other politicians. Although my concerns have been surprisingly well received, I am only one person. I am asking others to become involved.
Although Dragon Day was not canceled, the long held tradition of burning the dragon was prevented due to new New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations restricting open burning to wood and agricultural products (the law which appears relevant is located on the NY DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/43819.html). It seems that there was a lot of proposed legislation in the past year or two which aimed to reduce the impact of pollutants and the risks of wildfires associated with backyard burning. I think that the long held tradition of Dragon Day is tragically under attack with this new law as it currently stands. Having notified both Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and Congressman Hinchey, I can only that others feel as I do. The Dragon Day celebration draws in thousands of people from Ithaca and surrounding areas who actively participate in the spectacle with elaborate costumes and parading. I think that when one considers the environmental impact PER CAPITA, this event is insignificant and I would predict it to be significantly smaller than the operation of a major sporting venue. It essentially singles out Dragon Day over NASCAR events or Monster Truck shows. I would hope that exceptions would be permitted for large traditions such as Dragon Day in Ithaca, a city which is famous for its traditions and environmental concerns.
Prof. Robert Hovden