Old Spanish Days celebrated despite last-minute changes
Fiesta was seen, heard and experienced by a community that embraced it.
Sure, there were some modifications. But Santa Barbara found ways to adapt.
Missing were the parades and Noches de Ronda, the variety show at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse’s Sunken Garden (along with its afternoon counterpart, Tardes de Ronda).
Officially, La Fiesta Pequeña was closed to the public at large, but a large audience was able to view it from a distance. (And groups of audience members, who came with their families, friends and dogs, were easily more than six feet from each other.)
Dancers and musicians worked hard to prepare for this event, and they gave it a lot of spirit.
Speaking of that, the Spirit of Fiesta, Ysabella Yturralde, and Junior Spirit, Savannah Hoover, earned audiences’ applause for their dancing and enthusiasm at La Fiesta Pequeña and other events, including those that led up to Fiesta.
This year, Mercado de la Guerra was canceled. That meant, for the second year in a row, an empty De la Guerra Plaza, devoid of its traditional stage and food booths operated by nonprofits. But trumpets, strings and other instruments were played just beyond it. There was some singing too, and you could feel the spirit of Old Spanish Days.
And crowds gathered at local bars and restaurants to celebrate Fiesta.
Old Spanish Days drew many residents, out-of-town visitors and even someone from the Pokemon universe. None other than Pikachu was seen wearing Fiesta garb on State Street.
Elsewhere, Fiesta activities include the rodeo at Earl Warren Showgrounds, the arts and crafts show on Cabrillo Boulevard, the DIGS benefit at the Santa Barbara Zoo and Sunday night’s Fiesta finale at El Paseo, which reporter and photographer Annelise Hanshaw covered on today’s front page.
When in doubt, the community adapted. Sunday’s traditional Mercado at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was replaced by the church with a vaccination clinic, but one with food.
Ultimately, despite some planned alterations and last-minute changes, the Fiesta was celebrated, bringing music and dancing, as you saw in News-Press photographer Kenneth Song’s photos.
La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow, whose family joined her at Fiesta, talked to the News-Press during a pre-Fiesta interview at the Santa Barbara Mission. She explained that it was impossible not to smile when you say a particular magical phrase connected with Old Spanish Days.
The News-Press later learned that saying this particular phrase also comes with applause, as it did during La Misa del Presidente service, the Fiesta Mass Thursday at the Santa Barbara Mission. (Reporter Madison Hirneisen wrote about this in Friday’s News-Press.)
You know the phrase. Go ahead and say it.
“Viva la Fiesta!”