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Subies sent off road at parade

Dave Walery (center) watches to make sure members of the Salem Subies Car Club make a safe and orderly exit from the May 17 Keizer Iris Festival Parade at Manbrin Drive and River Road, following complaints of unsafe driving. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Dave Walery (center) watches to make sure members of the Salem Subies Car Club make a safe and orderly exit from the May 17 Keizer Iris Festival Parade at Manbrin Drive and River Road, following complaints of unsafe driving. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

All-wheel-drive and the distinctive sound help make a Subaru a Subaru.

Driving them dangerously, however, gets Subarus kicked out of a parade.

Such was the case last Saturday during the Iris Festival Parade sponsored by Valley Credit Services.

Parade spectators along River Road near Manbrin Drive saw something unusual: a group of about two dozen Subarus from the Salem Subies Car Club making a left onto Manbrin and leaving the parade under the guidance of Dave Walery and other officials.

John Teague, Keizer’s police chief, witnessed some of the group members do maneuvers he felt weren’t safe.

“I was at Chemawa and River Roads with (deputy police chief) Jeff Kuhns,” Teague said. “The first part of them seemed decent. Then a couple of them kind of hung back, then literally raced to catch up. I called Sgt. Trevor Wenning, who was running the parade, this group needs to be told to chill out because they are being too dangerous.

“Dave Walery told each row don’t do that again,” Teague added. “Then by the McDonald’s they’re doing it again. They were driving in circles, spinning around, driving backwards. Further along, they were racing again.”

Teague said Sergeant Bob Trump also witnessed the behavior.

“He radioed to Trevor and told him they’re doing it again,” Teague said of Trump.

Teague acknowledged he asked for the removal, but noted it was ultimately a group decision to ask the Subarus to leave.

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce that put on the parade, said once the decision was made, the next task was figuring out how to make it happen.

“We were communicating, trying to figure out the best place for them to leave,” Dieker said. “Dave wanted them to leave at Cummings Lane, but no officers were there and it was blocked with people. I was at Manbrin, so we did it there. I think the exit went very smooth. It was fine.”

Dieker noted she didn’t personally witness the Subarus doing anything wrong, but her son and daughter both did.

“My daughter said it was bad,” Dieker said. “They were doing u-turns and coming close to curbs where kids were sitting. Then they peeled out in front of Chief Teague. They were warned. Most of them didn’t know what was happening. It was just a few of the group doing this, like three or four out of the 25.”

Teague said the worst part was the actions continuing after the warning.

“That’s how egregious a behavior it was and continued to be,” the chief said. “That’s outrageous. It added a significant gap to the parade route. But they didn’t care. It was all about themselves.”

Scott Mendzer, a member of Salem Subies, posted a long review on the Iris Festival Parade’s Facebook page Saturday afternoon.

“I understand that some of our members were ‘launching’ their cars, and doing slow u-turns during the parade,” Mendzer wrote in part. “If there are event rules that prohibit these maneuvers, we were not aware of them. If we did indeed break any rules I sincerely apologize on behalf of the group. We received no warning that we were going to be ejected, and the officials had many opportunities to voice their concerns.

“At one point an official (Walery) drove past on a golf cart and told all the members to just be careful and safe, but did not ask us to stop any of the maneuvers that were being performed,” Mendzer added. “Had he asked any one of us to cease, we would have gladly complied. However, this never happened, and several blocks further down we were told we were being ejected and we’d need to exit the parade at Manbrin.”

Dieker and Teague both said a warning was given.

“I was told they had been warned,” Dieker said. “Most of them, as I was talking to them, didn’t know about the warning. They didn’t have communication among themselves. The guy (Mendzer) has some valid points. They’re not bad people. They didn’t understand what was going on. But we can’t risk anyone getting hurt. Just a few among them got a little too excited.”

Teague scoffed at the idea of prohibited behaviors having to be specified.

“We shouldn’t have to stipulate all the things that could possibly go wrong,” Teague said.

Mendzer said he understands the safety concerns and hopes to return to the parade in 2015.

“I sincerely hope that we will be welcome to join the parade next year, and if so, we will happily comply with any rules regarding conduct and driving maneuvers,” he wrote.

Teague said the final call on whether or not to let the group back isn’t his to make, but he made his opinion clear.

“I would say no way,” Teague said. “This went beyond normal behavior. That’s my suggestion. If they need someone to make the decision, I’ll make that decision. I don’t see what’s to be debated.”