SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With a reading about dance, in a Fiesta with the theme Vamos a Bailar or Let's Dance, the traditional Old Spanish Days La Misa del Presidente was held on a much smaller scale than ever before, with an invited guests list of about 20 people.
El Presidente Erik Davis said the Fiesta mass almost didn't happen due to COVID-19 rules on religious gatherings.
The mission staff worked up a secure outside location, instead of inside as it normally takes place. It was cordoned off, monitored by the Mission staff and those attending wore masks.
"They said we can do it outside, we can do it safely and we want to do this for the El Presidente," said Davis. "It was special, it was held Thursday morning same time, same location."
During the ongoing pandemic, the sermon was a message of hope and overcoming challenges.
The spirits, Alena Velasco and Alexandra Nocker, were called examples of that.
"I marvel at you. I truly marvel at you. The people you are. You have blessed this community and you have brought spirit to us and you have brought us in ways we can't recognize now," said Gosselin.
He read lyrics from a Lee Ann Womack song, "I hope you Dance."
"Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, and when you get a chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you dance," said Gosselin.
The setting and how it came to be was deeply emotional and several times it brought El Presidente to tears. He reflected on this year's event during troubled times and remembered discussions about how to create a Fiesta during a crisis.
"This town was going to need some Fiesta hope. It was going to need some joy. It wasn't easy. It's still not easy," said Davis with a shaken voice.
The Mass ended on the steps of the mission with uplifting dances by the Spirit and Junior Spirit.
It's where they would have danced Wednesday night during Fiesta Pequena had it not been canceled at that location. Instead, the event was held on TV Hill and broadcast on NewsChannel 3.
La Misa provided a moving message that could not be left out of even a reimagined Old Spanish Days.
"Most of all, I didn't want people to be discouraged. To not let this be a discouragement but have this be a moment of hope and joy. I wanted to impart that to the community, " said Gosselin.