No in-person attendance, live broadcast canceled
In the interest of community safety, Old Spanish Days organizers made the decision late Tuesday to close Fiesta Pequeña to the public.
Due to the county’s rising case rate associated with the highly transmissible Delta variant, organizers decided to close Wednesday’s Fiesta Pequeña to in-person attendance and will instead film the show and broadcast it at a later date, according to Fiesta’s El Segundo Vice Presidente David Bolton.
Organizers also announced Tuesday that Thursday’s Las Noches de Ronda will be outright canceled.
“With the surge and with suggestions to not have large gatherings … we just thought it was the right thing to do for our community,” Mr. Bolton told the News-Press. “Large gatherings right now — it’s just not the best time to be doing them, and Old Spanish Days didn’t want to put any members of our community at risk, and so that’s why the public portion of Paqueña and all of Noches de Ronda will be cancelled.”
The event now joins a list of traditional Fiesta events cancelled due to COVID-19, which includes the annual parade and the Mercado De la Guerra. At this point, the Fiesta rodeo at the Earl Warren Showgrounds is still tentatively scheduled for Friday.
While the event would normally be livestreamed, KEYT NewsChannel 3 announced Tuesday evening that it would be cancelling the live broadcast of the event, citing concerns about the safety risk it posed to employees. KEYT will be broadcasting the filmed show at a later date.
The cancellation is emotional for many Fiesta organizers, Mr. Bolton said, especially when the organization was so close to celebrating with the community after a hard pandemic year.
“It’s hard, it’s hard for everyone involved, it’s hard for participants, the parents, the organizers because everyone looks so forward to the event,” Mr. Bolton said. “(Fiesta) is such a highlight of the year. There’s energy there, generations of families celebrate together, and it’s hard to have to say we can’t do it, but it’s beyond our control. It’s what is happening on a large scale and the recommendations that we received that led us to make this decision. We made this decision thinking 100% that it’s what is best for our community at this time.”
Mr. Bolton said the recommendations from the county’s Public Health Department are advising all people to avoid crowds to slow the transmission of disease.
Prior to the board’s decision to cancel Paqueña, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, told the News-Press that he had concerns that Fiesta could turn into a superspreader event in the county.
With the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that the delta variant can spread even among fully vaccinated people, Dr. Ansorg said both vaccinated and unvaccinated community members must take precautions to slow disease spread. According to the latest data, 1 in 7 of the county’s COVID-19 cases are occurring among fully vaccinated people, Dr. Ansorg said.
“I would discourage any participation in any crowded event at this time,” Dr. Ansorg told the
An indoor mask mandate is imminent, regardless of vaccination status.
The mandate will begin at 5 p.m. Friday. More information will soon be released by Santa Barbara County Public Health (who has not yet made an official announcement).
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