News and Commentary

City To Dump Ton Of Chicken Manure In Central Park To Discourage Festival Gathering
At a farm in Montana, free-range chickens enjoy their freedom. The chickens have white feathers and red combs.
Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

A city in Sweden is set to dump a ton of chicken manure in a central park to discourage crowds from gathering for an annual festival amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is an attempt to deter as many as 30,000 residents in Lund, a university town east of Copenhagen, from gathering in the park for traditional celebrations to mark Walpurgis Night on Thursday, The Guardian reported. The festival features parties and bonfires scattered across Europe.

“Lund could very well become an epicentre for the spread of the coronavirus on the last night in April, [so] I think it was a good initiative,” the chairman of the local council’s environment committee, Gustav Lundblad, told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

“To sit in a park that stinks of chicken manure and where it is blown with leaf blowing and other things is not a pleasant experience. However, it is good for the lawns, as chicken manure contains a lot of phosphorus and nitrogen, so we get a really nice city park for the summer season,” writes Philip Sandberg on Facebook, the paper reported.

“It has already been decided that the City Park will be closed down and that the municipality will carry out maintenance work on 30 April. The reason is that you want to stop the big spontaneous party, which usually gather tens of thousands of young visitors, so as not to risk the spread of infection,” the paper said.

While officials in Sweden have not officially locked down the country, they have warned residents to stay away from the yearly tradition in order to limit the spread of the virus.

Lundblad said the chicken manure in Lund will be beneficial, allowing city residents to fertilize their lawns. “We get the opportunity to fertilize the lawns, and at the same time it will stink and so it may not be so nice to sit and drink beer in the park,” Lundblad said.

But he also warned that the town is going to be a bit stinky for a while, and not just in the park.

“I am not a fertilizer expert, but as I understand it, it is clear that it might smell a bit outside the park as well,” Lundblad said, according to The Guardian. “These are chicken droppings, after all. I cannot guarantee that the rest of the city will be odorless. But the point is to keep people out of the city park.”

President Trump, meanwhile, is criticizing the country for its lax approach to the coronavirus. “Despite reports to the contrary, Sweden is paying heavily for its decision not to lockdown. As of today, 2462 people have died there, a much higher number than the neighboring countries of Norway (207), Finland (206) or Denmark (443). The United States made the correct decision!” Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter.

Some states in the U.S. have taken similar extreme actions. Officials in California have resorted to filling skateparks with loads of sand to stop kids from skateboarding during the pandemic. Earlier this month, a popular skatepark in San Clemente was filled with 37,000 tons of sand to discourage skaters and “promote social distancing,” Los Angeles CBS reported.

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