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Celebrating the harvest Pinoneer Day Parade returns for 86th year

Posted: Friday, Oct 7th, 2016

Allyson Oken/Paso Robles Press A young spectator enjoy’s last year’s Pioneer Day festivities.

Keeping tradition is important to Paso Robles, and the 86th annual Pioneer Day Parade on Saturday, Oct. 8, provides an outlet for the community to share and remember more than 125 years of history.

Paso Roblans, both old and new, make a point to congregate back home on the second weekend in October and celebrate the town’s history and its people. This year, the theme for the parade is “The Harvest,” featuring hundreds of participants, from school groups to the dancing horses of the Caballeros, antique tractors, horse-drawn wagons, marching bands, mounted equestrian groups, youth groups, church groups, civic groups, floats, vintage cars, fire engines, military vehicles and more.

Pioneer Day Marshal John Bertoni and Queen June Bertoni will welcome the crowd as they make their way down the Pioneer Day Parade route as thousands line Spring Street. The parade, led by the North County Color Guard, kicks off at 10 a.m., followed by the Bean Feed and other events in the Downtown City Park.

The first Pioneer Day was held Oct. 12, 1931. It was organized by community volunteers working with generous donations of time, materials and money from individuals, businesses, churches and service organizations. Their goal was to provide a day of community friendship and a commemoration of the heritage of the Paso Robles area.

It would also become a day set aside to say “thank you” to all the people who support the area’s business and professional communities throughout the year. Most businesses close so that their employees can enjoy and participate in the activities and family reunions. The whole day is free and entirely funded by the business people and dedicated citizens of our area who say, “Leave your pocketbook at home.”

Everyone that participates in the parade seems to have a great sense of community spirit. Local residents Kevin Arshambo and his daughter Adelaide come out yearly with the family to celebrate her birthday at Pioneer Day.

“We put together a little wagon this year and she gets to drive it around all day with daddy pulling her,” Kevin said. “It is becoming a great birthday tradition.”

Many of those in attendance get into the spirit of the day like the Arshambo family. According to past parade judge Georgia Collins, it is hard to choose the standout entries every year.

After all the entries finish wheeling or walking their way around the Downtown City Park, the noon Bean Feed will be in full swing. People line up around the park with pots and Tupperware containers ready to fill up on what is called “the best beans in the world” by resident John Steaffens.

“I come out every year and these are the best beans in the world. You can’t beat them,” Steaffens said. “I was born and raised here. I helped serve these beans for 30 years or more. My father who was also a volunteer firefighter and chief of the fire department served them before me. So it is a real family tradition and I would not miss it.”

Antonio Barraza, who was also born and raised in Paso Robles, said the beans are what he comes back for year after year.

“I was raised here so I am here every year I can be,” Barraza said. “I love the beans. It’s free. They are a great deal.”

Out to serve the seemingly never-ending line for beans are the Paso Robles volunteer fire department and many volunteer community members. Sisters Stephanie and Debbie Douglass were both out to enjoy the day.

“This is my sister and we love this tradition,” Debbie said. “Not all our family made it out this year, but hopefully next year.”

For more information about Pioneer Day, visit pasoroblespioneerday.org.

For the complete article see the 10-07-2016 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-07-2016 paper.

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