“Viva la Fiesta!”
That familiar cry resounded once again from dozens of children and teens gathered in traditional Fiesta attire at the steps of SBCC’s sports pavilion on Saturday. The group, composed of members of Los Niños de las Flores and La Señoritas, crowded together for their annual photoshoot at SBCC before an exciting week of Fiesta events begins in August.
While this year’s Fiesta celebration is still scaled back compared to pre-pandemic years, the Los Niños de las Flores and La Señoritas are back in person again after a number of classic Fiesta events were cancelled in 2020.
Though this year’s Fiesta will not include any parades, the Los Niños de las Flores and La Señoritas will be kicking off the week of events at Fiesta Pequeña at the Santa Barbara Mission on Aug. 4.
Lily Crestfield, a member of the La Señoritas, told the News-Press that it feels good to be back in person and spreading the spirit of Fiesta once again. This is her eighth year involved in the group, and she said what keeps her coming back each year is being part of a community celebration that brings joy to so many people.
“It’s really nice to see people smile again because that’s why we all do it,” Lily said. “(Fiesta) just makes people happy. And you know, last year, we didn’t really get to see anyone. We got some pictures taken and stuff, but we couldn’t see the audience. So it’s nice to be able to be back and to see the people that we’re making happy and just celebrate as a big group again.”
Throughout this year’s celebration, the group of about 115 children and teens will be making their rounds to elderly homes, the police station and the mayor’s office to deliver flowers and spread Fiesta cheer.
For Harper Tolmei, a 12-year-old member of Los Niños, going to elderly homes to deliver flowers has always been her favorite part of Fiesta during each of the four years she’s been involved in the celebration.
“I really like seeing the old folk homes a lot because they’re all excited to see us come,” Harper told the News-Press. “And they’ve been waiting forever (to see us), the nurses say.”
This year, six boys have joined the Los Niños de las Flores. The group, while originally composed of just young girls, expanded a few years ago to include interested boys.
This year’s group also includes 24 La Señoritas who are 18 and will be graduating from the program. This is a record number of La Señoritas who will be finishing the program together, according to Isis Wilson, an associate director with Old Spanish Days.
After a hard pandemic year, Ms. Wilson said she is proud of the parents and children who remained involved in activities and are giving their time to make Fiesta a great experience for the community.
“It’s a tremendous commitment for the families, for the moms, and the dads and the chaperones,” Ms. Wilson told the News-Press. “The kids have to be shuttled all over town and be at places at certain times, and sometimes, it takes half a day for one event. And so it’s a major commitment, and so for the kids to do it and the families to sign up in these times is really a perfect example of giving back to the community.”
“We really try to teach the kids that what you put into the community is what you get out.”
Angi Cisneros, one of the directors with Old Spanish Days, posed with the children during the photoshoot, leading them in repeated chants of “Viva la Fiesta.” She told the News-Press afterwards that being back together with the children brings her so much joy.
“I think (being back) is the greatest thing ever because we have suffered so much in our community and just have been so separated,” Ms. Cisneros said. “And just to have the kids here together and doing something as a group is the most rewarding thing. Just to know that we are well and healthy and good enough to do this again and to continue that tradition. I’m just overwhelmed with joy.”
For more information on upcoming Fiesta events, visit sbfiesta.org/events-calendar.