MILLER PLACE - The annual pep rally in Miller Place has been canceled by the district.

While the Miller Place School District's homecoming football game and parade will be held as planned next weekend, the pep rally the night before has been canceled for the first time in 44 years.

Parents say they are disappointed that their kids will be missing out on such a time-honored tradition.

District and school administrators issued letters explaining they decided to call it off after a number of incidents that occurred at the pep rally over the last three years.

High School Principal Kevin Slavin says the inappropriate activities include substance abuse and peer mistreatment.

"We believe the decision to not hold the pep rally is a major step in our own efforts to convey a message to students: the destructive nature of poor decisions," the letter says.

Luann Cronin, who is a mother of three in the district, says there is now a plan for a pre-game picnic at the firehouse.  The football team won't be able to attend because they'll be practicing.

"We feel like the minority of kids made a mistake, and the majority of kids are getting something taken away from them because of what they did. We don't think it's fair," she says.

Currently, more than 800 community members have signed a petition urging the administration to change its decision.