Blankets, camping chairs and standing spectators lined either side of State Street on Friday as thousands of people descended on downtown to celebrate the history of Santa Barbara with the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Historical Parade.
Any tradition that includes smashing confetti-filled eggs onto the heads of friends or unsuspecting strangers tends to draw a large crowd.
The gallivants of high-stepping horses and smooth-riding Clydesdales, coupled with live mariachi band music, seemed to pump up attendees just as much.
The parade, also known as the El Desfile Histórico, served as a long-standing cornerstone of the 90-year-old Fiesta, which filled the Santa Barbara Harbor area as well. The procession began on the west end of Cabrillo Boulevard before marching east along the beach.
Hoots and hollers picked up steam when colorfully dressed folklorico dancers turned to strut up State Street during one of the nation’s largest equestrian parades.
Many attendees showed up well before the noon start to reserve curbside seats along State Street, and the most dedicated found good viewing points the evening prior.
“Viva la Fiesta!” was shouted from horseback riders of all ages who strolled or galloped sideways.
Young miniature Fiesta maidens in long skirts threw flowers to parade-goers, who could place them behind their ears or in their hair.
State Street restaurants served some parade-goers lunch on patios, and others found perches on rooftops of businesses.
Lively music of trumpet and violin players kept attendees dancing or bobbing their heads as flower-laden carriages and floats honoring the city’s historical roots flowed past.
Shady spots beneath trees along the path were taken, while many gladly — or grudgingly — stood in the afternoon heat to watch festivities armed with sunscreen or umbrellas.
Local elected officials donned their cowboy hats, boots and festive vests to wave from horse-drawn carriages, including Mayor Helene Schneider.
“Is everyone having fun?” she yelled to the crowd.
Some spectators wore outfits to match the spirited attire of those participating in the parade, which took about two hours total to march up to Sola Street.
The five-day Fiesta festivities continue Saturday and conclude Sunday. Click here for more information.