After reviewing dozens of public contracts, purchases, and real estate transactions at their monthly meeting Thursday, water reclamation district commissioners took up the next matter on their agenda: “Report on District Participation in 2008 Parades.”

The district, which is primarily responsible for wastewater management, also happens to be a frequent celebrant at cultural and ethnic events across the county. District officials say one way they spread their message of environmentalism is by entering their float into every parade they can, as long as it costs no more than a few hundred bucks. According to Thursday’s report to commissioners, the float will appear in at least 18 this year, including three for Saint Patrick’s Day, two for Mexican Independence day, two for the fall start of school, and one each for Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Columbus Day, and something called Pumpkin Day. It’ll also participate in the Bud Billiken Parade, a Little League parade in suburban Willow Springs and Justice, and neighborhood celebrations in Norwood Park and Edison Park, on the city’s northwest side.

But the commissioners weren’t altogether satisfied with the current state of parade planning. Patricia Young, who minutes earlier grilled district managers about a proposed consulting contract, brought the same level of skepticism to a new rule superintendent Richard Lanyon recently implemented requiring anyone riding on the float to be at least 12 years old.

“How did you establish the age of 12 as opposed to age 5 or 6?” Young asked him. “Because my son, who is 6, really enjoyed riding on it.”

Lanyon said he had ordered safety specialists to inspect the float, and after analyzing the height of its guardrails they had told him 12 should be the cutoff. “We can request another investigation,” he said. “Or we can raise the railings on the float.”

“Is the new policy that only people 12 and older can ride on the float, or is it that anyone under 12 must be accompanied by their parents?” wondered commissioner Barbara McGowan.

This made sense to Young and most of the rest of the board, including president Terry O’Brien.

“I’ll have to look into it,” Lanyon said.