On Friday, Old Spanish Days will present its first parade since 2019
The Fiesta Historical Parade will return this Friday after three years of pandemic-related interruption.
Known for its horses, dancers and floats, the Old Spanish Days procession is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m.
However, rather than streaming down State Street as in previous years, the parade will begin staging by the Carriage and Western Arts Museum on Castillo Street, then proceed down Cabrillo Boulevard for about 3 miles until the Chromatic Gate between Milpas Street and Calle Ceasar Chavez. That’s where the procession will turn and head back down Cabrillo.
The change in route is due primarily to the advent of restaurant parklets that have come to line State Street, the parade’s longtime home, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s going to be a good route,” parade chairman Gary MacDonald said in an interview with the News-Press. “It’s going to be wider (than the State Street route), more people will be able to see the parade, and I think it’s going to make for a better family event just because it has the beach right there where the kids can play.”
“We’re going to have this same kind of weather (that Santa Barbara has been experiencing) where it’s muggy and humid, probably in the mid-to-low 80s, so we’re hoping it’ll be cooler on the Cabrillo route because of the sea breeze,” added chief of pageantry Tony Miller. “We’re looking forward to having more space on sidewalks and different businesses involved” compared to the State Street route.
The parade will feature close to 800 participants in the procession, as well as more than 400 horses from Santa Barbara County, Arizona, Nevada, as well as other areas of California including Chico, San Diego and Temecula.
The grand marshal of this year’s parade will be the Borgatello Family of MarBorg Industries.
“They’ve been a big supporter of Fiesta. They’re a community company, and they do a lot for Santa Barbara and the parade,” Mr. MacDonald told the News-Press. “We’ve got them in a really nice stagecoach with a four-up team pulling it, which means two pairs of horses. It’s going to be impressive.”
In addition to familiar Fiesta parade mainstays such as the De la Guerra wedding party, a few new sights will also be on display for parade watchers. Among these will be floats for Santa Barbara Unified School District, as well as for this year’s La Presidente, Maria Cabrera, who usually rides on a horse.
Additionally, the Presidentes of the 2020 and 2021 Old Spanish Days Fiestas will also be honored with a float after their parades were canceled due to the pandemic. They will be accompanied by their respective Spirits of Fiesta, as well as Saint Barbara.
While organizers are excited for the return of the parade, they’d like to see the route go back to State Street in the future, and they’re providing input on the city’s State Street plan to hopefully make it a reality within the next two years.
“We’re coming up on the 100-year anniversary (of Fiesta) in two years, so that would be the preference to be able to go back to our roots and be able to do it on State Street,” said Mr. MacDonald. “It’s historical. We’ve done the parade there for nearly 100 years. It’s just the history, the ambience of downtown, and I think Santa Barbara is used to that tradition.”
“We’re not against the idea of State Street as a promenade,” he continued. “But make the restaurant parklets mobile so they could move them off State Street just for the day.”
The route down Cabrillo will result in the following street closures on Friday:
Beginning at 6 a.m.
— The 00 and 100 blocks of Castillo Street.
— The 300 block of W. Mason Street.
— The 400-700 blocks of Shoreline Drive
— Cabrillo Boulevard between Castillo and State streets will be restricted to local traffic only until 11 a.m.
Beginning at 11 a.m.:
— Cabrillo Boulevard between Castillo Street and Corona Del Mar. Buses, taxis, and local deliveries will be allowed until 11:30 a.m.
Street sweeping will begin immediately after the parade and will reopen streets block-by-block as they are swept, with all road closures expected to be lifted by 4 p.m.
Parking on Cabrillo Boulevard will also be restricted starting at 6 a.m.
The Palm Park Lot, located at Cabrillo and Garden streets, will remain open for parking until 11 a.m., after which no cars will be allowed in or out until street sweeping is completed following the parade.
Due to limited parking near the event, Fiesta and the Downtown Organization are partnering with the city of Santa Barbara to provide free trolley rides from various locations downtown between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Those who use the service will be dropped off on State Street near the Amtrak station just one block from the parade route.
Two of the three trolleys will be ADA- and wheelchair-accessible, according to Santa Barbara city officials.
“We want to be able to get people who would normally be able to walk to State Street to participate” with the new route, said Mr. Miller. “We want to make sure elderly folks and families have the ability to easily get down to Cabrillo.”
Pickups for the free trolley service will occur at the following locations, with pickups scheduled every 10 minutes:
— The 900 block of Chapala Street near City Lot 2
— The 1100 block of Anacapa Street, next to the Central Library, across from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and between the Library Garage and the Granada Garage
— The 600 block of Anacapa Street near Ortega Street and next to City Lot 10
For more information, visit sbfiesta.org.