A Tennessee park ranger says he was let go after footage of him dancing like nobody’s watching hit the Internet.
Deryl Nelson, 51, an employee at Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was known to locals as the “Dancing Park Ranger.”
Melissa Parsons, a mother who thought some of Nelson’s dance moves were inappropriate for children, posted a video online of the ranger getting down — literally — while on duty.
"As a parent and seeing all the parents that were covering their kids' eyes and turning their heads away, it wasn't something that you would expect to see in Coolidge park or anywhere from a grown man, especially a man in uniform," Parsons told WTVC-TV. “He went all the way down to the ground, he came back up from the ground, he was grabbing areas that you would see on an R-rated movie.”
Nowhere in the video did Nelson grab “areas,” but after his supervisors saw the footage, he was fired for “conduct unbecoming a public employee.”
This incident is not Nelson’s first brush with city officials. WRCB-TV reports that he was suspended in 2010 for hitting a car while on duty. He was also suspended for five days in 2013 for making an “unwelcome comment” about a co-worker.
It should be noted, however, that he was given an award last year for helping save a woman’s life at the park.
The 51-year-old says he’s been dancing for years because it brings smiles to visitors.
"It's all about enjoying what you do, and that's the way I feel," Nelson told WRCB. "Clean fun. It's nothing like doing any bumping and grinding. People just have nothing else to do but bash people. No twerks, no jerking, no nothing."
Nelson says he is currently appealing the termination and isn’t going to stop dancing.
"Just let me be myself," he said. "Let me be the park ranger. I was labeled 'the dancing park ranger,' so let me be the dancing park ranger."
Video Source: YouTube/Thomas Skiba