People lined State Street on Friday afternoon in their Fiesta best for Santa Barbara’s Historical Parade, with hundreds of horses and riders from all over California.
The annual parade is one of the biggest equestrian parades in the United States and a highlight of Old Spanish Days Fiesta, with events running through Sunday.
The parade is always led by the Spirit of Fiesta, represented by Sabrina Ibarra this year, wearing a beautiful white dress, followed by the Junior Spirits of Fiesta and the flower girls, who throw flowers in the parade and visit nursing home residents and others who can’t make it out to Old Spanish Days events.
Ibarra said she can’t even remember how many times she has danced flamenco in public by now, but guesses it’s been at least 30.
El Presidente Ricardo Castellanos chose this year’s theme, “Viva La Familia,” which was embraced by everyone watching the parade Friday. Families set up chairs and blankets together early on to get a good view of the show and cheered on the riders.
Spectators shared sunscreen and complimented each other on their sombreros and Spanish-style dresses. Keeping with tradition, vendors were stationed along the sidewalks selling painted cascarones — confetti-filled eggs — so the streets became as colorful as the people walking on them.
Mounted police forces, high school bands, horse-drawn carriages and groups of cowboys and cowgirls made their way from West Beach up State Street to the sound of bands, mariachi music and cheers from the crowds.
The weather wasn’t scorching as it was during the Summer Solstice Parade, which the horses probably appreciated, but Santa Barbara City Fire Department crews had a solution for spectators who needed to cool off — spraying hoses in the air.
There are many more Fiesta events still to come, including the Children’s Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, which moves down State Street from Victoria Street to Ortega Street.
Click here for a complete schedule of events.
(L. Paul Cook video / www.PaulCooksPhotos.com)