OCEAN CITY – If you hear gunfire coming from behind the Ocean City Library this Saturday, don’t be alarmed, it’s just the Lone Ranger.
In what Councilwoman Mary Knight called “the most unusual request I’ve ever seen in my time on the council,” the City Council approved a special request from Susan Todd of the Ocean City branch of the Worcester County Library to allow an impersonator dressed as the Lone Ranger to fire blanks from his .45 caliber pistol during his demonstration May 9 from noon to 3 p.m. in the library’s uptown parking lot.
The council approved Todd’s rather unusual request in a 6-1 vote, but did have some concerns about how the sounds of gunfire echoing throughout Ocean City’s uptown area would affect tourists and passersby.
“My only concern is the attention that this is going to draw when he discharges his weapon,” said Councilman Doug Cymek. “I can just imagine the phone ringing off the hook at the communications center.”
Todd said that the demonstration was part of a “western theme” that the library has been promoting and hoped to bring to life the stories of the Lone Ranger and the wild west to a younger audience, but ensured that she had contacted the police department, the 911 operator and the neighboring property owners to make them aware of the demonstration.
In order to be granted an exemption and allow the impersonator to not only discharge his firearm, which Todd said he would do roughly “a dozen times,” and have the horse “Silver” on site, Todd needed final approval from the council.
“I don’t really have a problem with this,” said Councilman Jim Hall. “It’s for the kids, it’s a show, it’s story time.”
Knight, who was the lone member of the council that voted against the motion, couldn’t get past how it might look to tourists.
“I’ve met the Lone Ranger and I’ve socialized with him,” said Knight, “but my concern is the shooting of the firearm. If I’m a tourist and I’m driving down Coastal Highway and I see a guy on a horse shooting a gun at a coin, call me crazy, but it may concern me.”
Mayor Rick Meehan and Todd both noted, however, that the demonstration wouldn’t be visible from Coastal Highway.
“I’ve met this guy and he really thinks he’s the Lone Ranger,” said Meehan. “My only concern would be if the sounds of the gun would scare people, but it’s behind the building so it should be fine.”
The Salisbury-based Lone Ranger impersonator, who goes by the name John Reid (his real name is Garry Cherriks), which is the alias name of the Lone Ranger in the popular television series in the 1950’s, is one of only four impersonators of the Lone Ranger in the country, and is the only one that performs with a horse, according to Todd.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas wondered aloud if the demonstration could be done without the firing of his weapon, thus negating the need for further discussion on the rather unusual request.
“It could, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective,” said Todd.