Wednesday, Prince Spaghetti Day, 2011 Version

Hi Readers! I love this idea that one of you sent regarding the Prince Spaghetti commercial. Enjoy it and have a great weekend — I’m off to Toronto to film another episode of my show. Remember: We still need some overprotective families in Toronto and/or New York City. So far, all the families that have participated really enjoyed it. (Me too!) — L.

Dear Free Range Kids: Yes, I remember that commercial.  They should update it and get some real publicity! (Hey, Lenore, Prince Spaghetti could be a sponsor of your TV show — with this new commercial)

The kid runs through the streets. Concerned helicopter parents watch as he passes. Several whip-out cellphones and call CPS.

Bystanders watching the boy talk of how dangerous it is to be unattended as a child in a dangerous city. (A siren sounds in the distance.)  The camera zooms in on a woman peering from a second story window, a look of grave concern etched on her face. She turns to somebody in the room and suggests calling the police. A voice says, “Don’t worry, he’s probably running home because it’s Prince Spaghetti Day.”

Scene change. Two policemen arrive with Anthony at his mother’s door. They read Mom the Riot Act and Anthony pipes up that it’s Prince Spaghetti Day, but the police say that’s no excuse to risk his life at HIS AGE because you never know when a pervert or murderer will kidnap and murder you.  The policeman finally leave. One says, “Maybe it was worth the risk since it’s Prince Spaghetti Day.” His partner jabs him in the ribs and says, “You can’t be serious!!”

The door closes. Anthony rolls his eyes at his mom. His mom nods and says it’s time for dinner. Then statistics roll across the screen telling how safe it actually is today for children to play outside …and that the likelihood of a child being killed in a car crash is far higher than being kidnapped. — Steve

Why Is This Radical? A Town Debates LETTING Kids Ride Their Bikes to School

Hi Readers! This is an encouraging story (from boston.com), in that Arlington, MA., a town outside of Boston, is pushing to get more kids biking to school.  But the fact that this initiative is CONTROVERSIAL is enough to make you bang your head against a bike horn. (Or vice versa.) Here’s a bit of the story, which begins by describing how bike-friendly the town seems to be:

No corner of the town is more than a few miles from the Minuteman Bikeway, the most popular bike path in the country. The town is home to two bicycle stores and a bike club whose members set off on long rides every Saturday and Sunday morning. A bicycling committee advises town leaders on bike issues.

And yet, until recently, school officials informally banned children from biking to school.

So far, none of the schools have bike racks. Last year, a pilot project to encourage children to ride their bikes to the Hardy School, the elementary school in East Arlington, was controversial.

“My view was, if you can’t ride to school in Arlington, then there’s no place you can ride to school in Massachusetts,’’ said David Watson, an Arlington resident and executive director of MassBike, a Boston-based bike advocacy group. “It’s already a bike-friendly community.’’

To those who want to encourage children to ride their bikes to school, the advantages seem clear: It’s better for the environment. And in an age of increasing fears about childhood obesity, they argue, it’s better for kids.

But not everyone agrees. Some parents and school officials are fearful about children sharing busy roads with minivans and SUVs ferrying children to school. (Most Arlington children live within a mile of an elementary school, so there are no school buses.)

And so it goes: Common sense — and the fact that this is one of the bikingest places in America — would seem to suggest that biking is not a terrible, crazy, death-defying idea. And yet the “What if???” brigade will always have its say. I agree: WE DO NOT WANT KIDS BEING MOWED DOWN BY MINIVANS! But here’s a great stat that I state in my book, too: HALF of all the kids injured by cars near schools are injured by cars dropping off OTHER kids at the school. So if we just scaled back on the chauffeuring, we’d already have a much safer route to school. Go Arlington! Get those kids pedaling! (And the next idea being contemplated there: Getting kids to ride to their ball game practices. Imagine!) — Lenore

Some day, Arlington. Some day!