Illinois Forest Jugglers Rejoice

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Good news for those who have been jonesing to juggle in the forest preserves of Cook County, Illinois — the Forest Preserve Commissioners voted last week to amend and/or repeal what they said were outdated rules governing "misconduct" within the preserves. As a result, a variety of previously banned activities like fortune-telling, "acrobatic feats" and juggling are now perfectly legal there.

It is also now acceptable for confidence men to lounge around in a barn.

That one is due to the repeal of a "disorderly conduct" ordinance that applied to

all persons who are known to be thieves, burglars, pickpockets, robbers or confidence men, either by their own confession or otherwise or by having been convicted of larceny, burglary, or other crimes against the laws of the State of Illinois, who are found lounging in or prowling or loitering around any house, barn, building or other structure within any forest preserve, and who are unable to give a reasonable excuse for being so found.

A county attorney said the anti-lounging ordinance was likely unconstitutional anyway, and it does seem a little overbroad, since it applies to anybody "known to be" in one of the listed categories because of a confession, a conviction, "or otherwise." I'm also not sure that there's a constitutionally acceptable definition of "lounging." But it doesn't matter now, because all such people are now able to lounge if they want to, whether they have a good reason or not.

The attorney also said that he suspected that the ban on juggling and acrobatics might have been intended to keep out circus and carnival folk, although the ordinance could have just said "no circuses" if that was the plan. As for fortune-telling, a commissioner said they lifted that ban because there was no definition of that practice, and it sounds like they didn't want to bother to write one up.

"Fortune-tellers are now free to go in the forest preserve and do whatever it is they do," he said.

Related posts:

For some of the trouble unregulated fortune-telling can cause, see "Feuding Newport Beach Gypsy-Fortune-Teller Clans Take Dispute to Court," Lowering the Bar (Dec. 7, 2007). This post discusses a (wildly overbroad) definition of "fortune-telling," and here a court considers the burning question of whether "Hacky Sack" constitutes "juggling" under the city ordinances of Boulder, Colorado.