Risk of Panic from Skylarking Students
The risk of panic in moving picture houses and other places of amusement when skylarking students of high schools enter them during performances was recently pointed out by Chief R. O. Mesnar of the fire department of Canton, Ohio. The noise and confusion incident to the so-called “snake dance” by the students, the chief says, might easily precipitate a bad stampede by those of the audience who did not know what was going on, and who might imagine it was a fire. The chief says:
I would call vour attention to a practice indulged in by our high school students, both boys and girls, which might some time result seriously. I refer to the so-called “Snake Dance.” It seems that whenever our high school team wins a victory from a rival team from another city, our students will on that evening assemble in the downtown streets and celebrate by forming a “snake dance” and march through the principal streets of our business section in this formation, giving yells and songs of victory and making much noise in general. Now this is all right when the marching and yelling is confined to the streets for I like to see them have their fun, but they do not always stay on the street or sidewalk while doing this “snake dance.” They have several times entered picture shows and other business places and paraded through, yelling and making much noise, and borne of them were observed smoking cigarettes while they did this.
This is a bad proposition—to enter a picture show in this manner and carry on, because there is a possibility that it might result in a panic some time, and maybe some one will be injured seriously or even loss of life may result therefrom. There may be some excitable patrons in the theatre who upon seeing these students enter and not knowing what it was all about, would start a stampede for the outside, the aisles would be dioked up and a general disastrous panic would result. This has happened through causes similar to this in other cities several times and the practice should be stopped. I believe every school principal in our city should be called upon to bring this to the attention of the students in the school he has charge of and discourage the practice of entering buildings, especially picture houses, in this manner and urge them to have their celebration on the outside where there is no such danger.
The sooner this is taken up, the better it will be for all concerned and a possible panic may be averted through prompt action by the proper authorities.