Inaugural Parade Planners Are Mistaken; Raisins Not Dancing

Associated Press

The California Raisins, those wildly successful animated celebrities who promote one of the state’s biggest cash crops, will not, as widely announced, be dancing in George Bush’s inaugural parade after all. The wrinkled mascots have been caught in a mild rhubarb.

The shriveled television stars were billed this week by Bush’s parade coordinators as prominent characters in the 78-float parade after the swearing-in Jan. 20.

News to Raisin Board

That was news to the people who run the California Raisin Advisory Board, which bankrolls the famous corrugated crowd of TV ad fame.


The inaugural procession will include attractions “from bell-ringers to bagpipes . . . California raisins to rodeo queens,” said the advances.

“I was surprised to read it,” said Robert Phinney, the board’s director of advertising.

Phinney denied that Bush’s “damned dancing raisins” campaign crack had anything to do with the board’s refusal to have people in California Raisin costumes march in the parade.

For more than two years, the board has promoted its product with the help of animated “claymation” figures in raisin costumes dancing to the 1960s song, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

Raisin sales shot up 11%, and more than 300 raisin dolls, shirts and other items went on store shelves and into fast-foot outlets.

The California Raisins, people in black tights under costumes, occasionally make public appearances, and during the Christmas season Nancy Reagan invited the furrowed fellows to help entertain the children of foreign diplomats at a White House party. But the parade presented some new wrinkles.

Turned Down by Board

Ed Cassidy, spokesman for the Bush inaugural committee, said the raisin marchers had been selected by the Council on Physical Fitness but turned down by the raisin board.

Phinney said the big hang-up was the council’s plan for the raisins to walk 2 1/2 miles in their raisin outfits alongside the floats. Such a walk, Phinney said, would be too tough on the raisins.

“Our characters are known for their dancing,” Phinney pleaded.