Fiesta recap: Parades hijacked, thousands flock downtown, no serious crime reported

Santa Barbara’s Fiesta Old Spanish Days week has passed, and while it may be too early for an official tally of how many people flocked to the dozens of downtown events, or how many dollars spent on local businesses, event organizers are delighted with a successful five days of festivities — and local law enforcement has reported no serious crime related to the festivities.

“This weekend has gone fantastically,” said Maria Cabrera, President of the Executive Committee of Old Spanish Days for 2022. “It was a wonderful Fiesta.”

After two summers of severely reduced or canceled events, Old Spanish Days came back strong, with a renewed spirit and an all-new parade route that drew thousands along Cabrillo Boulevard on Friday and Saturday for the El Desfile Historico (historical parade) and El Desfile de los Niños (children’s parade), respectively.

Credit: Fritz Olenberger

The new route was a success, according to organizers and participants. The wider route gave more room for the hundreds of horses in El Desfile Histórico – one of the largest equestrian parades in the country – and the new backdrop of palm trees, mountains and bright blue skies made the experience of parade even more photogenic.

“The street was very wide,” Cabrera said. “Seeing the horses, feeling the sea breeze – the vibes were all joy and happiness.”

The State Street promenade opened up the downtown experience to the thousands of locals and visitors who filled the streets, crackling colorful cascarones and scattering confetti all along the wide open walkway. The three mercados at MacKenzie Park, De la Guerra Square and Our Lady of Guadalupe were filled with hungry people eager to grab tortas, tamales or drinks while local flamenco dancers circled the many city ​​scenes.



At the Mission, La Fiesta Pequeña kicked off the events with songs and dances; at the courthouse, Las Noches de Ronda continued the party with even more performances. Both courtyards were filled with a patchwork of picnic blankets and chairs as people watched flamenco, mariachi and folk dances as the sun slowly set.

Celebración de los Dignatarios brought some of the city’s biggest names to the Santa Barbara Zoo, while the Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo, Arts & Craft Show and Fiesta Makers Markets provided great places to catch performances and buy handmade items.

Credit: Fritz Olenberger

On Sunday, hundreds of cyclists made the unofficial ‘Fiesta Cruiser Run’, meeting at Stearns Wharf and then making the trip to Goleta Beach. The ride is one of the biggest of the year, with many original cruisers making the same trip every Fiesta Sunday since the late 70s.

But the highlight of Fiesta could very well be the fact that the Santa Barbara Police Department reported no serious crimes or emergencies during the five-day celebration. Police spokesman, Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said there were “no major criminal cases, serious injuries or fatalities” directly related to Fiesta. Of a total of 181 calls received, the SBPD issued 119 citations and made 58 arrests, he said, with the most common crimes being open container violations and disorderly conduct, which includes “drunkenness in public and a few small verbal or physical fights”.

Even though the cleanup for this year’s Fiesta is still ongoing, with many volunteers including local high school athletes helping out, Old Spanish Days organizers are already looking forward to next year, and the big 100-year anniversary that will follow in 2024. . “As soon as [Spirit of Fiesta] the auditions are over, we are meeting and setting dates for next year,” Cabrera said. “We have big plans for the 100th.”

Credit: Fritz Olenberger


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