It’s against the law in Creswell to ride your horse down Old Town Road, or more precisely, the town’s main drag, Oregon Avenue.
The 50-year-old town city ordinance has some people up in arms. And a group of right-wing extremists planning a Creswell Fourth of July Parade say they may not have any permits for their event, but that won’t stop them from riding their horses through town — even if it’s illegal.
The entire July 4 event has been controversial among locals, but this specific point of contention comes from a law written in the Creswell Municipal Code that states,“No person shall ride or lead a horse on Oregon Avenue from Front Street to 10th Street or within a city park, unless in connection with a parade approved by the city.”
If this ordinance is violated, an individual is subject to a fine of up to $500.
In a thread on Creswell Community Connection, a Facebook group for Creswell locals, some people were discussing the horse riding ordinance, calling the law “antiquated.” One individual commented, “Have you ever wondered why horses, a perfectly legal method of travel on every street in America, is illegally targeted in Creswell on only one day the entire year?”
The answer is actually pretty simple: The ordinance has been in place since 1970. And it is not limited to July 4 or targeting an event. According to one story, the issue wasn’t the horses, but the horse shit.
According to City Recorder Roberta Tharp, the original ordinance prohibiting horses in parks and on certain streets was adopted by the Creswell City Council on July 13, 1970. In the following decades, the original horse ordinance was repealed and reworked into a new law several times.
The most current version was published in 2007.
Sgt. Scott Denham, an officer with the Lane County Sheriff’s Department who is stationed in Creswell, says he is not completely sure how the ordinance originally came into effect, but heard a story from a local longtime city employee. Denham says that some people used to ride their horses into town on Oregon Avenue where the old Dairy Queen was — located where the 76 gas station is now.
“They would tie their horses to the hitching post and they would eat their ice cream and ride back down Oregon Avenue, never picking up horse droppings because they were country folk,” Denham recalls from the story.
He says as the city grew with new housing and more affluent people moved to town, the newcomers would complain about horse manure getting all over the wheels of their cars, prompting the city to pass the first ordinance in 1970.
Unfortunately for this year’s parade planners, without a parade approved by the city, riding a horse down Oregon Avenue in Creswell is still not legal.
Still, parade planners and attendees maintain that it is their American “right” to travel by horse down Oregon Avenue, regardless of city law and the potential $500 dollar fine.