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Town Cancels Valentine’s Event Because Dancing Near Church is Illegal


An old law in a small town led to an upcoming Valentine’s Day dance being canceled. While residents of Henryetta, Oklahoma had heard about an ordinance that prohibited dancing within 500 feet of a church, but they didn’t realize it was still on the books. Locals got an unpleasant legal lesson when Robbie Kinney did some digging before a dance was set to be held at a store that was only 300 feet away from a church, KTUL reported.

Kinney was aware of the city ordinance and asked officials if it had ever been repealed. When they told her it hadn’t, she spoke out about it. Kinney posted about the issue on social media, which naturally drew plenty of negative responses. “They want to attack your character, they want to attack your past,” she said.

Even Mayor Jennifer Clason didn’t realize the law was still in effect until now. “I never looked at it because it never came up,” she said. “It’s an antiquated ordinance, no one has ever looked at it to change it.”

Henryetta Police Chief Steve Norman said he’s never enforced the law in his life, and doesn’t plan on starting, saying, “It’s one of those ordinances that was passed long before I ever came, and we have no interest in enforcing it.”

As luck would have it, the dance’s organizer is married to the city attorney, who takes his job very seriously. Despite Chief Norman saying he wasn’t going to go after anyone who violated the ordinance, Mayor Clason said the city attorney “said his oath is to uphold the law.” His wife promptly canceled the event.

Kinney said she had family members who wanted to go to the dance, and claims she didn’t want it to be canceled, but said, “We can’t pick and choose what laws we uphold.”

Mayor Clason said the city council will discuss abolishing the ordinance when they meet on February 22.

[Image via KTUL screengrab]

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