Old Spanish Days Fiesta looks a little different this year. While the COVID-19 pandemic precludes Santa Barbara’s annual festival from holding any outdoor events with massive crowds like previous years, the nonprofit is still going forward with a modified Fiesta with several events planned for this week.
Every year, local children and teens spread Fiesta cheer when they deliver flowers throughout the community while taking part in Los Ninos de las Flores. That tradition will continue today, with 88 kids making flower deliveries to retirement homes in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, and Carpenteria, as well as to fire and police stations.
According to Old Spanish Days division chief of external relations Angelique Davis, this year’s Los Ninos de las Flores will take social distancing into account, which means that those watching the kids make deliveries will be limited to family members. Also, the deliverers won’t make direct contact with the elderly folks at retirement communities. Instead, they will drop the flowers off in front of the buildings.
A grand performance on the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission is usually what characterizes Fiesta’s opening night La Fiesta Pequena, but this year the event will be televised in a Wednesday broadcast on KEYT Newschannel 3. The program will feature a mix of archival and new footage. While the former will consist of historical footage of past Fiestas, the latter will feature live performances by the Spirit of Fiesta, the Jr. Spirit of Fiesta, as well as other live musical acts. The broadcast will begin at 8 p.m.
Last month, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum started “Project Fiesta: The History of Old Spanish Days,” the annual exhibition celebrating the “pageantry, fashion and traditions of Fiesta” displaying photographs and other memorabilia from past celebrations. As the News-Press reported, this year’s “Project Fiesta” is held in the museum’s outdoor courtyard and features Feista-themed vintage postcards that haven’t been seen before this year’s exhibition.
During Fiesta week, “Project Fiesta” will be open to the public on August 6 from noon to 5 p.m., August 7 from noon to 7 p.m., and August 8 from noon to 5 p.m. Following Fiesta week, the exhibition will remain open to the public during museum hours until August 22. These hours are noon to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays, and Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.
This Friday will be a particularly busy Fiesta day, with the Caravan Fiesta Parade in the afternoon and online streamed musical performances in the evening. Described on the Old Spanish Days website as the equestrian parade Fiesta El Desfile Historico “reimagined as a car parade,” the Caravan Fiesta parade will feature classic cars and decorated vehicles driving with police escorts through Santa Barbara and Montecito neighborhoods to give local residents an opportunity to shout out “Viva La Fiesta!” as the procession travels past their homes.
The Caravan Fiesta Parade will begin at noon at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum and go in a loop through streets such as Cabrillo Boulevard, Coast Village Road, Milpas Street, Las Positas Street, and Shoreline Drive. A map showing the entire route can be found online at the Old Spanish Days website, sbfiesta.org.
Later in the day at 5:30 p.m., Old Spanish Days will livestream a new installment of its summer concert series on its Facebook page, YouTube Channel, and website. The performance will feature Fiesta mainstay The Bomb, a band led by Victor Vega mixing blues, jazz, and funk, and nylon string guitarist Chris Fossek.
Old Spanish Days’ first ever online auction that began on July 24 will run until August 9 at 6 p.m. Auction items include limited edition Fiesta 2020 posters, wine from Windrun Wine, and paintings by various local artists.