YOUNG, ALL HEART
Children’s Parade has become a tradition for many families
It was a non-stop celebration on State Street late Saturday morning as a procession of more than 600 people made its way from Victoria Street to Ortega Street for the Fiesta Children’s Parade.
Divided into more than 60 groups, participants ranged from local nonprofit organizations to dance studios, from school groups to individual families, all decked out in their best Spanish regalia.
Because the Fiesta Children’s Parade is a tradition for so many involved, one would have been hard-pressed to find a group for whom it was the first time participating.
Some families gathered in groups so big that the kids rode together on a float while their parents pushed them down the street. Monique Georges, 32, told the News-Press that her daughter Cheyenne, 11, along with her son Levi, 2, looks forward to the Children’s Parade, during which members of the family’s youngest generation ride on a float that the family first used 25 years ago.
Ms. Georges’ first participation in the parade dates back even further, to when she was 5 years old.
She added that their family keeps this tradition alive for the purpose of “allowing our children to experience what we got to experience growing up.”
For the Marquez family, the Fiesta Children’s Parade is a tradition nearly six decades long. During the parade the family’s float, emblazoned with a sign that read “Familia Marquez,” carried 23 of the youngest Marquez family cousins down State Street. The oldest float rider, Amaris Torres, 12, has been a part of the parade as long as she’s been alive.
Amaris said her favorite part of the parade is being with her relatives.
“It’s just nice to see the family,” she said.
Her relative Claudia Marquez added that the parade is the “one time we get all the cousins together every year.”
Several local dance studios were present, including Linda Vega Dance Studio, Goleta-based Zermeno Dance Academy, Lompoc-based Garcia Dance Studio, Montecito School of Ballet, and Westside Dance.
Westside Dance owner Jen Phillips led a group of young girls for the fifth year in a row. She said her dance school’s continued involvement offers her students the opportunity to “feel like they’re really a part of what’s going on in their town.” The students prepared all week for the Children’s Parade.
“We made our own cascarones, we made paper flowers, we learned Spanish words and songs and dances, and now it’s like a performance at the end,” Ms. Phillips said.
For Westside Dance’s youngest student, Ms. Phillips’ 3-year-old daughter Lana, Saturday’s parade was a first. When asked before the parade if she was looking forward to it, she just answered, “Yeah.”
Most of the first-time participants seemed to be young children. Los Angeles resident Jill Daignault walked the parade with her husband, Jeff, and 18-month-old son, Finn, for whom it was the first parade. The adult Daignaults have been attending Fiesta for the past nine years, however, and have participated in the Children’s Parade for three years with some of their friends. Ms. Daignault said her family always loves to get away in Santa Barbara, and that the Fiesta Children’s Parade is the perfect time to come to town.
“We love Santa Barbara. We love any opportunity we can get to visit. The Children’s Parade is just such a fun, happy time for the kids and it’s great to see how many people turn out for it,” she said.
As the hundreds of parade walkers rounded the corner of Ortega Street, they were served small cups of ice cream for relief after spending such a long time under the hot, morning sun.