A squabble between carnival workers and striking CUPE members brought about half a dozen police cars to the waterfront Thursday morning.
Maggie Durocher, executive director of the Windsor Parade Corporation, which runs Summerfest and leases land for the festival, said the altercation occurred when carnival employees started picking up litter on the festival grounds.
Durocher said when she arrived at the Summerfest site just east of Dieppe Gardens on Thursday morning, she saw garbage bins tipped over, trash strewn on the ground, and about 20 garbage bins tossed into a dumpster. “Someone had taken the garbage out and thrown the bins in the dumpster,” she said. “They pushed me over the edge. It was just taunting someone to come clean it up.”
She said “a lady in a CUPE shirt” admitted that striking municipal workers had dumped the garbage out and told Durocher they were now “on garbage watch.”
Durocher and some of the World’s Finest Shows workers were picking up the garbage when a shouting match began between CUPE members and carnival employees.
“A CUPE worker came up to me and said one of the (carnival) workers said something unsavoury to one of the strikers. I don’t know who threw the first remark,” she said.
Durocher wouldn’t specify the nature of the insult, but said tempers escalated. “There was a lot of finger pointing and two men right up in each other’s faces. It got really ugly, so I stepped between them,” she said.
One of the carnival workers called police to the scene, and after police arrived, the two camps separated while anger simmered. Striking CUPE workers on the site refused to comment, and CUPE leaders could not be reached for further information.
Durocher said the Windsor Parade Corporation signed a contract with the city to lease the land for Summerfest. The contract stipulates that the grounds must be clean when the event is over.
“I had to clean it up, or else they’d charge me $2,000,” she said.
Durocher said she approached pickets on the scene before the dispute to ask how she could keep the site clean and keep the peace with striking CUPE workers. She said pickets told her they wouldn’t interfere if it was just Durocher retrieving the litter.
“But it was more garbage than I could do by myself, so I asked the carnival workers to help me,” she said. “I’m sorry the whole thing happened.”
The Windsor Parade Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that co-ordinates the annual Santa Claus Parade in Windsor, Kingsville and Amherstburg.
Its sole sources of funding are Summerfest and external grants.