Why do mayors want to change the levee?

This blog rarely promotes the status quo. A levee is a boring event at the best of times but that does not give city mayors free rein to dick around with the custom. This New Year’s Day we will have the mayors of both Toronto and Babel hosting their own version of what a levee should be. They are questionable changes.

Toronto’s irascible Mayor Ford might be holding his last levee ever before being tossed out of office and he still has not decided just what the event will include. While the meet and greet of citizens will take place inside Toronto City Hall, there is talk of the event deteriorating into a series of skating party for families. While a skating party is always nice, it is not pertinent to the objectives of a levee.

When Louis XIV of France initiated the custom of the levee, he greeted his subjects in his bed chamber. In Canada, the custom fell to the sovereign’s representative. This worthy is expected to be fully clothed when greeting the sovereign’s loyal subjects, offer them something to sip after showing their obeisance and reporting to them, informally, on the state of affairs of their community.

The local armed services play a particularly important part in the levee and officers are expected to attend in dress uniform with full medals and swords. They can look quite elegant standing there with their white gloves, sipping on a tiny cup of eggnog. It is often considered a highlight of the event—the officers, not the eggnog.

In Babel, regrettably, the custom of the levee has been converted into a fund raiser for the county United Appeal. Local caterers and restaurants are contributing paper plates and food for two sittings of lunch at $25 a plate in the City Hall rotunda. Those citizens unable to afford the $25 lunch can come later for free coffee.

What someone should have explained to Babel’s mayor is that a levee is designed to bring the populace together. It is not a time to divide the community into the “haves” and “have nots.” A levee is definitely not the occasion for a fund raiser. Good intentions to not make it right.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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