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Oakdale High parade marches into history

OAKDALE -- As long as Oakdale remains one of the larger cities in the region with only one public high school, there will be traditions that keep the school and town unique.

But one by one, some of those traditions are falling into memory.

Friday, for reasons tied to costs and insurance regulations, Oakdale High School did not have a homecoming parade, ending a tradition that had been observed for more than 40 years.

Three years earlier, the school's practice of running a horse on the track in front of the home football grandstand after an Oakdale touchdown was ended when the school installed a synthetic running surface that could not withstand the pounding of hooves.

The school's student-led leadership council decided more than a month ago to call off the parade through city streets, primarily citing the costs of complying with insurance company liability guidelines.

Those guidelines included the presence of a three-foot rail on the perimeter of flatbed floats on which people would ride while tossing treats to the crowd. Also, the practice of having homecoming queen and king candidates ride unsecured atop the back seat of a convertible would have to end, the insurance company advised.

Police expenses, too

In addition, with the recent cuts to the Oakdale Police Department budget, the school would have to underwrite the cost of having police secure the parade route, a circuit that included a short stretch of Highway 108.

"We took these problems to the kids, who needed to be part of the decision-making process," said Oakdale High School Vice Principal Diana Crofts. "We were going to have to pay for the police. And who was going to pay to have the railings installed on the flatbed trucks?

"The kids decided to put off the parade and try to come up with new things for future years."

One of the ideas, according to Crofts, is to create a small parade that could take place between the junior varsity and varsity homecoming football games. The class floats, she said, could be downsized to the point where they would be unmanned and could be pulled across the track by golf carts.

She said she's heard no major complaints about the cancellation of the parade. It certainly didn't hurt the undefeated Mustangs' football team, which marched on with a 56-6 victory over Ceres.

"I don't know that anybody really missed it," Crofts said. "Some kids told me they were glad to see it go because they were tired of getting hit by candy. Some kids were sorry to see it go because of the tradition.

"It's always hard to see any traditions go, but we're working on creating new ones."

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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