Deryl Nelson said he has been dancing on the job for years to make visitors smile, but it was “the dancing park ranger’s” moves that recently landed him into hot water with his employer.
Melissa Parsons, who recently visited Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and filmed Nelson getting down (literally) told WTVC-TV that some of the 51-year-old’s dance moves were inappropriate for children.
“As a parent and seeing all the parents that were covering their kids eyes and turning their heads away, it wasn’t something you would expect to see in Coolidge Park or anywhere from a grown man, especially a man in uniform,” Parsons told the news station. “He went all the way to the ground, he came back up from the ground, he was grabbing areas that you would see on a rated R movie.”
Watch WTVC’s report, which includes some of the dancing that Parsons recorded:
After seeing the footage, Nelson was fired from his seven-year post in the public works department with city officials saying his dancing was “unbecoming conduct” and led him to neglect his actual work, WRCB-TV reported.
Nelson and others though argue that he should not have lost his job for the dance moves.
“Clean fun. It’s nothing like doing any bumping and grinding,” he told WRCB. ”People just have nothing else to do but bash people. “No twerks, no jerking, no nothing.”
Park visitor Jordan Otis told the news station that seeing a government employee “out dancing, enjoying life” made people happy.
“Sad. I mean somebody’s trying to have fun and entertain people and they get fired for doing that. I don’t understand,” Deeanna Demian, another visitor to the park, told WRCB.
The news station reported that Nelson previously had a couple of other work infractions, unrelated to the dancing, but he also is credited with saving a woman who fell into the river last year.