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Surprise meeting keeps Fiesta selfie tradition alive

fiesta selfie
Ryan Fish/KEYT
Ben Held and Madeline Ferries take their annual Fiesta selfie on Saturday after a surprise meeting arranged by their families.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Even with most Old Spanish Days events canceled or done virtually this year, not even the pandemic could derail a special selfie tradition.

Former Fiesta flower girl Madeline Ferries and longtime flower girls sponsor Ben Feld first met in 2013 after gathering for the opening festivities during La Fiesta Pequeña.

Ben and his wife, Rhonda Henderson--La Presidente in 2017--would organize the front of the flower girls parade.

“All the girls in height order, so that we could go down the parade route,” Held explained. “So I was always at the front. So when I first met [Madeline] back in 2013… she was the smallest. She was right at the front of the line. Her first Fiesta.”

The two began taking selfies every year, and the tradition became a special part of each's annual Fiesta experience.

When it seemed like the two would not be able to meet this year due to the pandemic, Madeline sent Ben a flower with a note reading, "Viva La Fiesta! I wanted to make sure I got you your flower this year!"

"It touched me so much, she still found a way to seek me out, even though we weren't gonna be able to do our selfie," Held said.

Rhonda and Madeline's family then jumped in and arranged for the two to have a surprise meeting Saturday morning on State Street, allowing the two to take their annual Fiesta selfie.

"Such a way to do something normal during these weird times during Old Spanish Days," said Held, who was El Primer Caballero in 2017.

Ferries, who is now 13 and a La Señorita, called the selfie "something to look forward to."

"Just doing as much as we can with Fiesta [this year]," she said.

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Ryan Fish

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