I cannot abide the treatment my children and I received at our local concert event last Thursday. I have been attending the events for the last six years, what I love most about them is the openness and inclusiveness — everyone is welcome!

My son, 2 years old, and daughter, 4 years old, have been coming since they were in the womb and have enjoyed dancing to the music, watching the musicians and feeling that wonderful sense of community that instills children with a sense of well-being and support.

All summer long they have been dancing in front of the stage, sometimes joined by enthusiastic grown-ups.

This past Thursday the Marine Corps band played marches and patriotic music. This time, a group of people, sitting right up front, in what has been the dance area, told us that allowing the children to dance in front of the stage was disrespectful to the Marines. We told them we disagreed.

During the intermission, this group spoke to the “maestro” (not a Marine), who then announced “There are free popsicles for kids, but if they dance in front of the stage the offer is void”! I was incensed. But to be thorough, we checked with the Marines, and they assured us they “like to see the kids run around at outdoor community events.” I informed the complaining group.

Their response: “Well we don’t like it. This is not music to dance to, it is for sitting and listening and you should take your brats and go!” My children are “brats” for dancing to music? And, she said it right in front of them.

Later, my 4-year-old [daughter] asked me “Why did that grown-up call us brats?” She was sad, hurt and confused.

I reassured her that she is not a brat; both my children are well mannered, yet exuberant, as young children should be. None of those dancing children are brats, they are children, they dance and laugh and smile and show their joy openly — take a lesson.

Of course, people are entitled to their opinion, and I agree that during some songs children should be taught to be quiet and respectful, realizing that a 2-year-old cannot accomplish this perfectly.

However, during John Philip Sousa marches, no dancing? Really? Come on! Kids (and adults) should march and strut and dance all they want! That is respecting the music and the Marines, and it is patriotic.

I am sorry that those folks did not enjoy their evening in the exact manner in which they’d hoped.

So here is my advice: 1) Don’t sit where you might encounter happy dancing children. If you don’t like them near you, then move away from the dance area. 2) If you don’t like to see them, then close your eyes and “sit and listen.” And, 3) Let the Marines defend themselves, I’m sure they know how.

Heidi & Todd Hoggan
Pine Cove