Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 8:46 pm | Fair 56º


La Recepción del Presidente Opens Santa Barbara’s Biggest Party Week

Locals kick up their heels at kick-off celebration for 91st Old Spanish Days Fiesta

From right, 2015 Old Spanish Days El Presidente Cas Stimson and his wife, Kathleen McClintock, with KEYT News senior reporter John Palminteri. Click to view larger
From right, 2015 Old Spanish Days El Presidente Cas Stimson and his wife, Kathleen McClintock, with KEYT News senior reporter John Palminteri. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

On a beautiful Sunday evening, the annual La Recepción del Presidente​ heralded the start of Santa Barbara’s upcoming Fiesta week.

It was sunny and warm during the margarita and social hour at the outdoor Plaza del Sol at The Fess Parker. But as the sun set on the hotel’s rotunda, the cool ocean breezes were welcomed as several hundred costumed guests took to the dance floor to hear Jana and The One perform again following the program and buffet dinner.

The Jana and the One band returned to perform once again at La Recepcion del Presidente, much to the delight of the costumed crowd.

Cas Stimson, 2015 El Presidente of Old Spanish Days, welcomed the sponsors and guests who were dressed in their finest Fiesta apparel — everything from intricate Flamenco gowns and Spanish-style embroidered suits to cowboy shirts, hats and boots.

He reported that Fiesta attractions are more popular than ever.

“We have sold out every Fiesta ticketed event, including the parade (El Desfile Histórico),” he exclaimed. “We have more Fiesta Flower Girls than ever before!”

Stimson was supported at the event by his Executive Committee, including J.C. Gordon, primer vice presidente; Rhonda Ledson Henderson, segunda vice presidente; Barbara Carroll, vice presidenta secretaria; Denise Sanford, vice presidenta tesorera; Dennis Rickard, El Presidente proximo pasado; Stephanie Petlow, division chief - external relations; Diana Vandervoort, division chief - dance & entertainment; Jim Wilcox, division chief – mercado; Michelle Bischoff, division chief – celebrations; and Debbie Oquist, division chief – pageantry, as well as many more directors and associate directors.

KEYT News senior reporter John Palminteri served as the evening’s emcee. Old Spanish Days second vice president Rhonda Henderson recognized the important sponsors, including Diamond Sponsor Union Bank, as well as Titanium sponsors Cox, Impulse, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Jordano’s, KEYT News Channel 3, MarBorg Industries, The Fess Parker — A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, and many others.

The crowd was thrilled with the performances of the majestic 2015 Spirit of Fiesta Alexandra Freres from San Marcos High School and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Ysabella Yturralde, a fifth-grader at Washington School. Blue-costumed dancers from the Zermeño Dance Academy also delighted the crowd an outstanding dance routine.

Also present was the gracious St. Barbara, Erika Ranchiotto. Santa Barbara is unique among California cities in that its patron saint has been regularly portrayed in community pageants for more than 100 years. Annually a representative from the Native Daughters of the Golden West, Reina Del Mar Parlor 126, an organization dedicated to the preservation of California history, selects a member to portray St. Barbara at various Old Spanish Days Fiesta activities, a tradition since 1926.

On display was the colorful green carriage that was entered in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day 2015. It served as a beautiful back drop for lots of photos and selfies at the Fiesta party.

Old Spanish Days begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Click here for more information about Old Spanish Days, or click here for a complete calendar of Fiesta events.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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