Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Here we don't go a wassailing

Damn lawyers and worries about potential lawsuits kills another lovely tradition.

Wait I are one.

A damn lawyer not a lovely tradition.

Perhaps the family can serve a release form wherein the recipient of a cookie vows not to sue the City of New Braunfels after they acknowledge the dangers of eating said cookie? Nah, not so much.

Still its a damn shame.

Family boycotting Wassailfest over cookies


The lights will be dim at 361 W. San Antonio St. during this year’s Wassailfest.

Santa and Mrs. Claus won’t be greeting visitors, passing out wassail and freshly baked homemade cookies, as they have for the past 15 years.

Instead, one of the most ornately decorated homes in New Braunfels each Christmas will sit dark on Thursday, as one family protests an event they’ve been a part of since it began in 1993.

Ken and Caren Lowery said there’s a good reason for their boycott — the city won’t let them serve homemade cookies if they aren’t prepared in a commercial kitchen.

“It’s just sad,” said Caren Lowery. “We do this for fun, and the city is taking all of the fun out of it.”

When Wassailfest started, Lowery donned a Santa costume to hear children’s Christmas wishes; Caren brewed wassail, and Mrs. Claus, Rosalie Brandt, baked 100 dozen cookies to pass out to visitors stopping by on their tasty tour of downtown New Braunfels.

It’s now an annual tradition, one that includes the Edelweiss Kinder Chor singing carols on their lawn. This past year, Brandt gave out 225 dozen cookies to passersby.

“It’s incredibly popular,” Caren said. “You just can’t imagine the volume of people we have here every year.”

The city, however, is clamping down on their holiday regimen by choosing to enforce a long-standing rule that home-baked goods cannot be given out to the public.

Joe Lara, the city’s environmental health manager, said treats baked in an uncontrolled and unsanctioned environment pose a potentially serious health risk, particularly at an event expected to have between 10,000 and 15,000 people in attendance.

He said home-baked goods have been prohibited at events for several years by both the city and county health officials, particularly because of the risk of spreading of hepatitis.

“This has been in effect for a number of years, for a number of good reasons,” Lara said. “Some people have just chosen not to follow it.”

This is the first year the city’s parks department is running Wassailfest, and he said that might be the reason that the city is just now enforcing the rule.

But for the Lowery’s, the new requirement means the end of a long and well-liked tradition of passing out cookies to Wassailfest visitors. They said no one has gotten sick over the past 15 years from eating their cookies.

Rather than not serve cookies, they’ve chosen not to participate at all.

“We’ve done this because it’s always been enjoyable for us and for everyone who comes by during Wassailfest,” Ken Lowery said. “This is just disappointing. It seems like we’re losing that spirit of giving that is really what this season is all about.”