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Old Spanish Days Kicks Off Countdown to Santa Barbara Fiesta Celebrations

This year's events include the 92nd annual historical parade, which will feature more than 600 horses, on Aug. 5

The 2016 Spirit of Fiesta Alexis Simentales, left, and Junior Spirit Sarah Naretto celebrate the kickoff of Old Spanish Days outside the Carriage and Western Art Museum in Santa Barbara on Wednesday.
The 2016 Spirit of Fiesta Alexis Simentales, left, and Junior Spirit Sarah Naretto celebrate the kickoff of Old Spanish Days outside the Carriage and Western Art Museum in Santa Barbara on Wednesday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

With just 28 days left, the countdown to the week-long festivities of the annual celebration of Old Spanish Days Fiesta has begun.
 
The festival is predicted to draw crowds of more than 100,000, making it one of the biggest regional festivals in the United States.

Fiesta Flower Girls, the 2016 Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta, and Old Spanish Days directors kicked off the celebration Wednesday at Carriage and Western Art Museum.
  
“It’s going to be here before you know it,” said Vice Presidenta Tesorera Barbara Carroll. “It’s exciting.”
 
This year's Old Spanish Days theme — Santa Barbara: The Coastal Frontier — draws inspiration from the county's geographical environment and maritime history influenced by the early nineteenth century lifestyle, El Presidente J.C. Gordon said.
 
Gordon said the sea has had a central role in the establishment of Santa Barbara’s inhabitants from the Spanish explorers, the Chumash and the Mexican-American Rancho periods.
 
“There’s no larger influence on early Santa Barbara than the sea,” Gordon said. “It has completely shaped our history and the cultures we celebrate at Old Spanish Days.”
 
Artist Jeremy Harper painted this year’s poster which features a landscape scene of the Presidio site built in 1782, the Santa Barbara Mission and the two known Chumash villages.

The 92nd annual Fiesta Historical Parade will be held Aug. 5 and is expected to feature more than 600 horses. 

For a complete list of Old Spanish Days activities, click here. 

Alexis Simentales, who was selected as the 2016 Spirit of Fiesta, said she looks forward to this year’s events and performances. The 18-year-old Santa Barbara City College student's role represents the beauty and grace of the Old Spanish Days culture.
 
Among the crowd was Mayor Helene Schneider, who said the annual celebration of the fiesta brings together the community.
 
“This is Santa Barbara — we just had Summer Solstice and Fourth of July weekend was a couple of days ago,” Schneider said.

“Now, on to the next event. Coming together with community, family, friends and having a great time are what Santa Barbara is about.”
 
Multiple community events are scheduled throughout the city starting with the Old Spanish Days Annual Costume Sale at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Carriage and Western Art Museum, 129 Castillo St.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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