Orange Blossom Festival: Lindsay cancels dinner, delegation to Japan

Proceeds from March 28 dinner would have funded Lindsay High School exchange students’ trip to Sister City in Ono, Japan

The Sun-Gazette

LINDSAY – This year’s Orange Blossom Festival queen and court will miss out on another event this week. The Lindsay/Ono Sister City Organization announced last week that it has canceled its annual Teriyaki Dinner Fundraiser scheduled for this Saturday, March 28 at the Lindsay Wellness Center. 

“Friends, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, locally and around the globe, the health and well-being of our families and community is our number one priority,” program chairperson Carolina Serna wrote in a letter to the community. “With that in mind, the Lindsay/Ono Sister City Organization has made the decision to cancel our 2020 Annual Teriyaki Dinner fundraiser …”

The event, held annually during Orange Blossom Festival (OBF), has been a tradition in Lindsay for decades. Proceeds from the $10 tickets for the dinner and raffles during the night go toward sending Lindsay High School students to visit Ono, Japan as part of a student exchange program between the sister cities. While Ono was founded as a city about 50 years after Lindsay, the city in the Hyogo Prefecture is about five times larger with a population of over 50,000. 

The event was close to the heart of this year’s queen, Carina Morales, who was honored to be a part of the student exchange program with Lindsay’s sister city. Carina joined a delegation of students, chaperones and local officials that traveled to Japan to experience the city’s culture during her junior year at Lindsay High School. Lindsay kicked off the exchange program in April 1974 when it sent 78 students and 38 adult chaperones to Ono for a 10-day trip. For many of the students, it was not only their first trip abroad, but also their first plane ride ever. In August of that year, Ono sent 50 students and 31 adults to Lindsay to commemorate the exchange. From then on, Lindsay students went to Japan on event numbered years and Ono students came to the United States on odd numbered years. 

In her letter, Serna also announced that Lindsay 2020 delegation to Japan was also postponed due to COVID-19. “We will work with our friends in Ono City, Japan to pick a future date for the exchange to take place. I appreciate your continued support of the Lindsay/Ono Sister City Program, and thank you for your understanding during these extenuating circumstances.”

This is the 47th anniversary of the Lindsay – Ono sister city program, which officially began when Mayor Roy Kiesz and his wife traveled to the Japanese city to hand deliver a resolution establishing the Sister City relationship to his counterpart, Mayor Sachio Hayashi, in 1973. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the sister cities’ partnership, Ono Mayor Tsutomu Horai and a delegation of officials from the Japanese city served as grand marshal of the 2013 OBF Parade. Later that day, the city dedicated a “Friendship Area” at Lindsay City Park featuring benches below four flag poles which fly the American flag, Japanese flag, the California state flag along with a flag bearing the City of Lindsay’s seal, and four koi wind socks symbolic of Japanese culture. The road running across the area, an extension of Sierra View Avenue, was also renamed “Ono City Parkway” in 2012.

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