Old city ordinance shuts down Valentine's dance

With around 6,500 people inside less than a dozen square miles of city, Henryetta makes for a quiet life if you want it. But it's roughly 300 feet -- the distance from a store off 5th Street to a church -- that has the whole town wrapped up in controversy.

At the heart of it all is a Valentine's dance scheduled to take place at Rosie LaVon's Marketplace.

Robbie Kinney said she had family who wanted to go, but there was just one problem.

"The ordinance says no dancing allowed. It's illegal," said Kinney.

No dancing within 500 feet of a church, or so the city ordinance says.

Since the church is 300 feet away, she asked city officials.

"Has this law been overturned? And if so, when?" said Kinney.

She said she posted the question on Facebook, and that's when the attacks began.

"They want to attack your character, they want to attack your past," said Kinney.

Born and raised in Henryetta, Mayor Jennifer Clason had always heard about the old city ordinance.

"It's never been enforced my entire life," said Clason. "But I'd never looked at it because it never came up."

So she pulled out the books, and sure enough, there it was.

"It's an antiquated ordinance, no one has ever looked at it to change it," said Clason.

The organizer canceled the dance, mostly because her husband is the city attorney.

"He said his oath is to uphold the law," said Clason.

Police Chief Steve Norman said he's never enforced the law and that's not likely to change.

"It's one of those ordinances that was passed long before I ever came, and we have no interest in enforcing it," said Norman.

Kinney said she never wanted the dance to be canceled, but she does wonder where the line is drawn.

"Laws are laws, and we're going to abide by them. We can't pick and choose what laws we uphold," said Kinney.

Clason said the city council will consider abolishing the ordinance during their meeting Feb. 22.

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