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Local News

Amid Joie de Vivre of Bastille Day Commemoration, Santa Barbara’s French Festival Stands with France

Locals remember victims of deadly terrorist attack in Nice during spirited celebration of all things French

Roses placed on a replica Eiffel Tower at the 28th annual Santa Barbara French Festival were a somber reminder of the apparent Islamic terrorist attack in Nice. Click to view larger
Roses placed on a replica Eiffel Tower at the 28th annual Santa Barbara French Festival were a somber reminder of the apparent Islamic terrorist attack in Nice. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Commemorating French independence and revolution, and determined to move beyond Thursday’s deadly terrorist attack in Nice, locals celebrated Bastille Day with a touch of joy Saturday at the Santa Barbara French Festival.

“This year we are impressed with the turnout of people who have recognized the power of solidarity,” said festival volunteer Karen Perkins, whose favorite event is the Poodles & Pals Parade.

“We have people who have come this year particularly to gather together. It’s amazing how in tune residents are with the fact that we are all in this together, no matter how far apart.”

The spirit of France was front and center Saturday at the Oak Park festival, which drew hundreds of people from different nationalities.

The 28th annual celebration came just days after the massacre in Nice, where a 19-ton truck plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in an apparent Islamic terrorist attack. At least 84 people were killed and more than 200 were injured before police shot and killed the suspect driving the vehicle.

“It’s hard to celebrate when there’s a lingering feeling,” Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said to a crowd waiting for a mime performance. “I’m here celebrating, to stand together and take a moment to remember.”

Festival-goers remembered the victims of the Nice terrorism with a memorial where they could write messages and thoughts.

“When something tragic occurs, it’s important to have a place to express feelings and show sympathy,” said Olivia Flisher, a Solvang resident and member of the Santa Barbara Doll Club.

“It’s important to show the friendships and love felt around the world.”

The crowd trickled into the event, greeted by the smell of freshly made crêpes, French bread and pastries. The park was decorated with France’s tricolors of blue, white and red; French flag themes; can-can performers; accordion players; and French Polynesian dances.

Bastille Day is an annual celebration commemorating the storming of The Bastille prison during the bloody French Revolution on July 14, 1789.

Attendees took full advantage of the dance floor — and of food vendors. They posed for photos in front of a replica Eiffel Tower and browsed among more than 70 vendors.

The free two-day celebration continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar Ave.

“This is a wonderful event,” said Yu Grace, a vendor who sold 1920s handmade vintage hats. “There’s nice music, performances, good food and it draws a lot of people from all over.”​

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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