One of the iconic figures in the community has been selected by La Presidenta Denise Sanford to serve as the 2018 Fiesta Parade grand marshal. Before a packed press conference at the Western Carriage and Western Art Museum on Tuesday, Brooks Firestone was introduced along with his wife, Kate.

Brooks Firestone

Brooks Firestone (Fritz Olenberger photo / courtesy of Old Spanish Days)

“I am just honored and excited to be chosen as the Fiesta grand marshal,” said Firestone, who has participated in Fiesta as an outrider dating back nearly 40 years. “I have enjoyed the many Fiesta events over the years, and it has been special being an outrider. I am really looking forward to serving as Fiesta’s grand marshal.”

A local vintner, family patriarch and former California assemblyman (35th District) and Santa Barbara County supervisor (Third District), Firestone also was named an honorary Charro — a Mexican cowboy — some 45 years ago. “I am happy that I can still fit in the same outfit,” he quipped.

After living in the community for many decades, Firestone has a keen appreciation for Fiesta and what the annual summer festival organized by Old Spanish Days means to the greater community and to local tourism.

“As communities all over the world celebrate their heritage and history, to be a small part of our celebration here, of the culture and heritage of Santa Barbara, is very meaningful to me,” Firestone said. “It is truly a celebration of our cultural heritage, and it’s a lot of fun!”

In addition to serving as parade grand marshal, La Presidenta Sanford has invited the Firestones to many of the upcoming Fiesta events, including Fiesta Pequeña, which kicks off the opening day of Fiesta on Wednesday, Aug. 1, on the steps of Old Mission Santa Barbara.

The historical parade, El Désfile Historico, begins at noon Friday, Aug. 3 and runs from Castillo Street and Cabrillo Boulevard along the waterfront before making a turn up State Street, and continuing all the way to Micheltorena Street.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta is celebrating 94 years in the community. This tradition fosters a unique spirit among locals and tourists who participate and celebrate the famed Rancho period (1824-64). The important annual coming together encourages community cooperation, collaboration and growth. It has remained a pivotal, iconic community festival. It continues to support other local nonprofit organizations.

— David Bolton is the press chair for Old Spanish Days Fiesta.