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Homecoming Tradition Axed
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Freshman Sierra Guevara reaches over fellow student Mallory Baity to dip her paintbrush while Ana Reynoso holds the paint jar Saturday, Oct. 3 when the students painted the windows of downtown business in celebration of Homecoming week, Oct. 5-9. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader

Forty-plus years of a Homecoming tradition has been felled by an insurance requirement.

Each year in celebration of Homecoming the leadership class has put together floats for each grade level using donated flatbeds and materials and paraded them downtown with the students dressed in fun, themed outfits while the Homecoming Queen nominees rode in style perched on a convertible.

That all came grinding to a halt when new insurance requirements managed to not only suck the fun out of the event but put an end to it entirely.

According to Diana Crofts, Oakdale High School Vice Principal, the new insurance requirements came to the school’s attention last year on the day of the scheduled parade. It was too late to make changes or shut it down.

“It was too late to pull the plug,” Crofts said. “But we knew the following year we’d have to figure something out.”

Rumors flew that the parade was cut due to Caltrans permit snags but Crofts said there were no problems there. In order to shut down a state highway, Caltrans must issue a permit to do so.

No, the problem was a byproduct of California’s litigious inclinations.

The new requirements state that the flatbed rigs must be outfitted with railings for the students’ safety and the girls can no longer ride perched on the convertibles but rather they must be sitting properly and buckled in.

“We exhausted our options trying to think of ways to make it work but we ran out of time and so we had no choice but to cancel the parade this year,” Crofts said.

Additionally, Crofts said that in order to block off the streets the school would’ve had to pay the police department time and a half for the officers’ time, which was an additional expense the school district didn’t have room for in the budget.

“We put our thinking caps on and thought maybe we could do a small parade out in front of the school but the kids didn’t want to do that,” Crofts said.

In order to revive the standard tradition, someone would have to not only donate the flatbed but the materials and the time to install the railings. Barring that, Crofts is hoping to replace the parade with a new tradition.

“We were thinking of pulling small trailers with golf carts in front of the school or maybe down G Street,” she said. “There are just so many pieces going into play to make it happen.”

Crofts is hoping the loss of the parade will be softened by the fun activities the school has planned for Homecoming week.

According to the Leadership Advisor Ed Rapinchuk, the students will be able to participate in numerous lunchtime activities including dress up days, powder puff, and class spirit awards.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, the classes spent the morning painting the windows of select downtown businesses in celebration of Homecoming, which will culminate with Friday night’s home football game at the Corral.