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Despite a flat tire caused by a shattered beer bottle, Mike Wrona was determined not to have his July Fourth spirit dampened Sunday. So he left his car parked in front of a meter on South St. Clair Street overnight.
Besides, he figured yesterday was a holiday and the last thing he'd have to worry about was feeding a parking meter.
"I left my car here thinking, 'Oh yeah, it's a holiday tomorrow,'●" said Mr. Wrona, 24.
But when he returned yesterday morning, a bright yellow parking ticket was flapping on his windshield.
He unfortunately learned that the meters were about the only thing open for business downtown.
"If today was Christmas, would they be ticketing then? A holiday's a holiday," he said.
Though all government offices, the post office, and most businesses were closed yesterday for the Independence Day holiday, city parking meters required payment.
Meter readers for Park Smart, the downtown firm that has a contract with the city to monitor the meters, were issuing $10 tickets to motorists who wrongly assumed the observed holiday was considered an official one.
Unlike other days that visitors may presume meters are free - like the day after Thanksgiving - the parking meters were just about the only thing open for business in downtown yesterday.
Park Smart's downtown information center was closed and no one was available to answer the phone.
The news that tickets were being doled out even surprised Pete Gozza, president of Downtown Toledo Inc., who said he'd like to talk to parking officials today. He added that Downtown Toledo Inc. has no jurisdiction over the city's parking.
Joyce Taylor was visiting Toledo from Detroit to meet up with her daughter, one of the few downtown employees on the clock.
As she pulled up to a spot on North St. Clair Street near Madison Street, she noticed tickets on the windshields of several parked cars.
"I thought it's a holiday, but then I saw the tickets," said Ms. Taylor as she plunked quarters into the meters. "Nobody's here and there's nothing open. Why are they charging today?"
Toledo police Sgt. Paul Kerschbaum said he had not heard any complaints about the tickets but expected to receive calls tomorrow.
Police handed over the job of parking meter violations years ago, but the traffic division still hears it from angry motorists.
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