DINUBA – The annual Raisin Day Parade will have a new, shorter route this year, much to the chagrin of many residents.
The 2023 Raisin Day Harvest Festival Parade begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 23 and the new route is about half of the length of the previous route. According to the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the Raisin Harvest Festival each year, the route was shortened due to safety considerations.
“While this change has stirred emotions among some community members who cherish the park route tradition, it was made with the utmost consideration for everyone’s well-being,” Heathe Jones, president and CEO of the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce, said.
Instead of going by Rose Ann Vuich Park, the parade will begin at the intersection of Elizabeth Way and Tulare Street in downtown Dinuba and will travel southwest on Tulare Street to the grandstand at the intersection of L Street. It will then head southeast along L Street and end at the intersection of L and Ventura Street. This new route is just more than a half mile compared to the former route of 1.1 miles.
“One of the significant benefits of this change is increased accessibility,” Jones said. “By shortening the parade route, it becomes more inclusive for participants of all ages and abilities.”
In a response to a comment on the chamber’s Facebook post about the parade sign up form, a chamber representative said that the biggest factor in the change was that several student participants struggled with the heat and length of the parade last year, including one middle school band student who had to be pulled from the parade.
The comment said that the temperatures in September can still be in the 90s and the complications last year, alongside the fact that student participants have to be in place for an hour before the parade begins, were determining factors.
“We don’t want to have to wait until a child is seriously injured to have wished we had done more to improve the safety protocols,” the Dinuba chamber said in a comment.
Many comments on Facebook from residents said that instead of changing the route, there needs to be better heat protection measures in place and participants need to prepare for the heat better. One comment said that heat is often bad at the parade, but “we all dealt with it, and never heard complaints from students or parents.”
Additionally, the chamber commented on its Facebook post that the shorter parade route is the same route that is used for the Christmas and Cinco de Mayo parades and the adjustment of the Raisin Day Parade means they only have one parade route plan that they can “really dial in on to make it the safest event possible.”
“A route that isn’t changed every year, as it has been in years past, and a safety plan that is put in place … makes this event safe for both the spectators and the participants,” the chamber said in a comment.
Jones said that feedback from parade participants, including the Dinuba Women’s Club, played a major role in the decision to change the route. She added that the alignment with other parades allows for a consistent parade experience for residents.
Dinubans commented on the Facebook post asking why the change occurred and expressing their disappointment in the new parade route. Some commented that shortening the parade is disrupting decades of Raisin Day traditions and will lead to less attendance and the ultimate discontinuation of the parade.
Others said they are upset that the parade will not be going past Rose Ann Vuich Park, where many people set up for hours to wait for the parade to begin and enjoy the access to festival vendors that have booths in the park. Commenters said Dinuba families have traditions dating back generations of watching the parade from the park.
Jones acknowledged that the route change has disappointed residents with fond memories of the parade going past the park and said the decision was not made lightly and the chamber empathizes with the sentimentality attached to the Raisin Day tradition.
Commenters also questioned where the decision was coming from and if there was any public input in the decision.
“Please don’t destroy our Raisin Day!!” one comment said.
Most comments also expressed the opinion that changing the route will make traffic in downtown Dinuba worse, will limit people’s ability to watch the parade, will make vendors not want to participate and will hurt the rest of the festival.
“We hope that the community will embrace this change as a step toward a safer and more inclusive Raisin Day Parade experience,” Jones said. “Your understanding and support are essential as we continue to celebrate our town’s rich traditions while adapting to the evolving needs of our residents.”
The Raisin Harvest Festival is a four-day carnival with a two-day festival including kids’ activities, craft and food vendors, the parade and entertainment, according to the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce website. Festival tickets go on sale Sept. 11 and can be purchased at the chamber offices at 210 N. L St. in Dinuba or at the Circle K on El Monte Way.
For more information, contact the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce at 559-591-2707 or visit their website.