Political unrest and public health concerns faded into the background for one Sunday afternoon as two young women took on the mantle of Old Spanish Days spirits.
Recent Lompoc High School graduate Alena Velasco, 18, is the 2020 Spirit of Fiesta and Vieja Valley Elementary School fourth grader Alexandra Nocker, 10, is the Junior Spirit.
Old Spanish Days leaders emblazoned their names on the Arlington Theatre marquee. This year’s El Presidente Erik Davis broke the good news to the girls and their families at the theater. The News-Press got an exclusive first look at the announcement event.
“I’m really happy because I’ve been working for this for a long time. I tried out two years ago in my sophomore year and it was a really good experience. I took a break for my junior year and I wanted to do it again this year, because I fought a lot to be where I am. My sophomore year, I had no confidence. This year I had more and I’m glad I did and I believed in myself,” she said.
Ms. Velasco earned a 4.0 GPA for every semester of her high school career in addition to extracurricular activities including dancing, choreography and singing. She also volunteers at local elementary schools and convalescent homes.
Ms. Velasco will attend Allan Hancock College in the fall to study cosmetology.
Alexandra attended her first Fiesta when she was just six months. She said becoming this year’s Junior Spirit is a dream come true.
“I’m really really happy about it. I’m excited. When I first started my goal was to be a Spirit, as I got older I thought I might want to start as a Junior Spirit,” she said.
Alexandra earned awards for citizenship and academic performance. She said she enjoys the challenge of math and learning about California history in her social studies classes. Alexandra practices flamenco dancing at Zermeño Dance Academy and enjoys surfing, playing the violin and acting in her spare time. She also fundraises for Girls Inc.
“The Fiesta spirit is caught up in dance. It brings forwards our traditions, it captures our history. It brings joy to so many people. The beautiful dresses, the music, the swirling costumes. That’s all embodied with the Spirit and Junior spirit who have been a part of this tradition for a long long time,” El Presidente Erik Davis.
This year’s Fiesta theme is fittingly “¡Vamos a Bailar!”or “Let’s Dance!” in English.
“For me, dance embodies the joy, emotion and true spirit of Fiesta. I am very proud of Alena and Alexandra and look forward to seeing them bring a lot of joy to our community over the next couple of months,” Mr. Davis said.
Additional reaction videos can be seen below. For more details, see Monday’s News-Press.