Locals and visitors alike gathered along State Street once again to cheer on Santa Barbara’s youngsters as the 82nd annual El Desfile De Los Niños, or Children’s Parade, opened the festivities for the fourth day of Old Spanish Days’ Fiesta.
Organized by the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department, the procession features local youth, their parents and other parade participants dressed up in traditional costumes, celebrating the community’s rich culture and heritage. Despite morning rain, the parade began on time at 10 a.m. Saturday at the corner of State and Victoria streets, with hundreds of onlookers and parade participants ready to experience performances by local dance companies, school clubs and local musicians, all showcasing youthful talent.
“I love coming to the Children’s Parade every year,” said Sharon Diaz, a seasoned Fiesta veteran who has lived in Santa Barbara all her life. “It’s by far my favorite. It’s great seeing how excited the children are to participate and walk down State Street with all the attention on them.”
Fiesta Flower Girls and the Junior Spirits of Fiesta started the parade off, tossing fresh flowers into the crowd and dancing down the street to the sounds of Spanish folklórico music. Many smiling children were featured on top of homemade floats pulled by family members, cheering and waving to the crowd while decked out in Fiesta gear. Various floats depicted historical scenes from old Spanish colonial days, children dressed as cowboys atop horses, or wagons decorated with flowers, banners and streamers.
Babies and toddlers with hand-drawn mustaches on their faces were a common sight throughout the parade, as were parents, friends and other relatives leading and cheering the children on as they all walked down State Street, hand-in-hand.
“The Children’s Parade is a chance for Fiesta to really celebrate the families of Santa Barbara,” said Ana Zucheron, a parade official who has worked Fiesta for several years. “And it’s a chance for families to gather together and celebrate their children.”
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