In 1897, The City of Cheyenne passed an ordinance prohibiting public performances without a permit. 122 years later, singing Christmas carols in public could, technically, subject you to a $750 fine or six months in jail.

"Persons desiring to deliver a public address or engage in singing or playing of musical instruments or give any other form of entertainment or advertise upon any streets, alleys, sidewalks or other thoroughfares or public property of the city must state the location for and the time when such address, entertainment or advertising is to be given and obtain a written permit from the mayor."

Although the statute was revised to allow street musicians to perform downtown, it's still illegal to sing on public property without a written permit.

"Would the Cheyenne Police Department arrest every member of an elementary school choir for belting out “Jingle Bells” in the Depot Plaza? Of course not," Anthony Viddard wrote in a 2016 Wyoming Liberty Group blog. "But, could a citizen wind up with a hefty citation for Christmas caroling on a public sidewalk? Under the current ordinance, yes, it is possible."

Cheyenne City Councilman Richard Johnson unsuccessfully attempted to revise the ordinance in 2017.

"I tried to get rid of it and failed," Johnson recalled. "No one on the dais except my replacement can say they did not vote on this."

Luckily, in the 122 years since the law was enacted, the Cheyenne Police have never cited or arrested any Christmas carolers. If someone was ticketed for unlawful singing in Cheyenne, the ordinance would likely be declared unconstitutional in court, according to Viddard.


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