Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Midnight Madness & a Full Moon

I was in a convenience store in the late evening at the end of last week. As I left, the clerk said, “Be careful driving tonight. We have a full moon and all of the crazies are on the road.”

On my way home I made a connection with what he had said and something that happened almost thirty years ago. Just like last week, the Kentucky State Fair had just begun. Also like last week, there was a full moon. Unlike last week—I hope—the fair promoted something they called “Midnight Madness,” during which midway rides remained open until the wee hours of the morning.

I probably would have paid no attention to any of this except for what happened the next day. At that time I was supervising social services in a county just south of Louisville. My office covered everything from protective services to juvenile services. I had two juvenile court workers and usually they could deal with any new cases that came to court. However, that morning they telephoned me from the courthouse and literally cried for help.

I walked to the courthouse from my office and found at least sixty adolescents and their parents sitting in the hallway. All of these kids were facing charges. The majority—about 40 of them—were charged with trespassing: they had been arrested for skinny dipping in a very dangerous old rock quarry. The other 20 or so faced various charges related to driving offenses, alcohol and drugs.

My two social workers felt overwhelmed. I admit that I did, too. Thus, I called all of the social workers I supervised, regardless of their specialties, to help process the cases. I, of course, joined in the work. And that’s when I began to figure out what was going on. Almost all of these kids had attended Midnight Madness at the State Fair, following which they had gotten themselves into the mischief for which they were arrested. But that didn’t really make sense to me; we had had a few juveniles arrested after Midnight Madness in previous years, but never so many.

It wasn’t until later that the (moon) light began to shine on the explanation. As I completed the intake work with one of the arrested juveniles, a deputy sheriff came up to me and said, “Any damned fool who would schedule Midnight Madness on a night with a full moon must be insane.”

I don’t know if those who planned the fair that year were truly insane; however, I do remember the insanity that took place after Midnight Madness on a night with a full moon. I hope the same people aren’t responsible for this year’s fair schedule!

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