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Old Spanish Days Parade revived with a safe route during pandemic

Fiesta 2020 parade
The 2020 Old Spanish Days parade will involve a convertible car event.
Fiesta poster
John Palminteri
The 2020 Old Spanish Days parade will involve a convertible car event.
Fiesta flag
The 2020 Old Spanish Days parade will involve a convertible car event.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It won't be the incredibly festive Old Spanish Days parade, known to drawn 75,000 or more to downtown Santa Barbara, but this year, Fiesta will have a hybrid version of that event with safety in mind.

The COVID-19 crisis has cancelled virtually all major events on the Central Coast, with Old Spanish Days one of the biggest, along with the California Mid-State Fair and the Santa Barbara County Fair.

Old Spanish Days has stayed vibrant with its "Fiesta Music and Dance Fridays" show streaming each week, along with the release of the poster and pin and pop-up shows with the two spirits.

On August 7, the normal day of the traditional parade, Old Spanish Days will have a moving convertible car event throughout the city.

Dignitaries including El Presidente Erik Davis, Grand Marshal Father Larry Gosselin and Saint Barbara Teresa Nowak Kuskey will be among the featured participants.

The idea is to keep the Fiesta spirit alive, but not to have any crowd gathering. Spectators are asked to keep a distance from each other and find a spot where they can view the event with safety in mind.

Details are still being worked out, including the number of vehicles involved, the time of the parade and the length of the route.

A somewhat similar parade was held on July 4th in Montecito using decorated cars and military vehicles. It went throughout the upper and lower sections of the community and drew spectators at every turn.

The Fiesta parade is expected to have a big draw as it touches all areas of the city.

There will be no horses or historic carriages involved. They, over the years, have been one of the biggest attractions, and among the participants were world class riders and honored mounted teams.

Known as El Desfile Historico the parade has been a time travel to the early Spanish, Mexican, Ranchero, Native American and Religious days of the Central Coast.

The parade featured horses and riders from throughout the area many wearing very cultural and vintage attire.

"One of the things we wanted to do this whole time is honor the key features of a Fiesta.  The Pequena, spirits, the poster, the pin   and for many people the Fiesta parade is it," said El Presidente Erik Davis.

"We wanted to keep it safe, give reasons for people to have their Fiesta at home  and this was a great way to offer a disbursement of Fiesta as we take the Fiesta parade to all the neighborhoods and encourage people to stay a stay distance and stay safe as we bring Fiesta to you," he said.

Davis stresses that it is important for people not to travel far from their homes to find a viewing spot.

He also says he would like to see people dress up and bring their Fiesta spirit to the parade as it passes by.

"It's going to be unique,   it's going to be fun ,  it's going to be bright    it's going to be colorful, and I'm really looking forward to it," said Davis.

"This is the way to avoid gathering downtown stay at home, stay in your neighborhood and we will bring the Fiesta Parade to you," said Davis.  "Come out and say hello as the fiesta parade comes to you"

This year, the Old Spanish Days Board of Directors has encouraged the community to put up their Fiesta flags, banners and bunting along with taking part in a new lighting plan. The Home Improvement Center in Santa Barbara is selling red, green and yellow lights for those who want to illuminate their homes and businesses with Fiesta colors.

Posters and pins are being sold in various locations including grocery stores, the Viva! Santa Barbara store in the Paseo Nuevo Mall and the Home Improvement Center.

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11.

Editors Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo & Parade had been canceled. This story has been updated to reflect a decision has not been made as of August 6.

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Coronavirus / Entertainment / Events / Health / Home / Latino / Latino Local / Santa Barbara- S County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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