Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fiesta time is here again


As summer reaches its pinnacle, fire season comes into full swing and the urge to break a cascarone over a stranger’s head is stronger than ever, it means one thing: Old Spanish Days Fiesta is near.
This year Fiesta will celebrate its 84th birthday much the way it has in the past, with taco-rich mercados, one of the largest equestrian parades in the U.S., flamenco and Spanish dance entertainment and an endless barrage of parties.

The theme for this year’s event, dubbed by Fiesta El Presidente Tim Taylor, is “Viva La Communidad,” or Long Live the Community. He said Fiesta celebrates all of the people of Santa Barbara and the ways in which they make it a special place to live.
“I think of Old Spanish Days and Fiesta as somewhat of a holiday for Santa Barbara,” he said. “Where you can take what’s going on in your ordinary life and be able to relax for a couple of days, enjoy friends and family, meet new people and really celebrate Santa Barbara’s history through song, dance, food and costume.”
Of the roughly 20 events scheduled for the five-day celebration, Taylor said he’s looking forward most to the parade. He said as many as 70 family members from three states will be joining him on a float.
Taylor was able to infuse a bit of his long, Santa Barbara family history into the parade by having a replica of his great, great, great grandfather’s schooner built, which will be used as a float.
Taylor’s grandfather was Benjamin Foxen, an English sailor who first came to Santa Barbara in 1827. Taylor said Foxen married his wife in 1831 in the Santa Barbara Mission, and in 1846, led a brigade of the U.S. military over San Marcos Pass to fight Santa Barbara away from Mexico control.
Only it wasn’t much of a fight. Taylor said Foxen got word the entire Mexican army stationed in Santa Barbara had traveled up the coast to Gaviota to ambush the American soldiers. So Foxen led them over the mountains, where they took the city over with little trouble.
“They took it Christmas day without bloodshed,” Taylor said.
Taylor said his favorite part of Fiesta is seeing old friends who live elsewhere and plan their vacations around Fiesta.
He said his vision for this year’s celebration centers around that concept, and he hopes everyone gets to see an old friend, or gets to know a new one during Fiesta.
The celebration kicks-off this Wednesday, July 30, with the popular Fiesta Pequena on the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission. It concludes five days later on Aug. 3.
A complete list of Fiesta events is available at

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