Confetti flew and spirits were high during La Fiesta Pequeña on Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara Mission. Residents gathered on blankets and lawn chairs as they enjoyed Old Spanish Days’ “little fiesta.”
“There’s nothing like it in the world than to be in Santa Barbara on this night,” the Rev. Larry Gosselin of Old Mission Santa Barbara said as he welcomed the crowd. “This is truly a night of celebration of culture, beauty, faith and love, and the beautiful people of Santa Barbara.”
The evening began with performances from an all-female mariachi band. The event featured several performances of traditional dances by performers from dance academies all over Santa Barbara County.
“Dance is such a big part of Fiesta,” David Bolton, this year’s Old Spanish Days el presidente, said to the crowd on Wednesday. “It’s a pleasure for all of us now to share with all of you a little history, a history of dance.”
La Fiesta Pequeña also included performances by the Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
This year’s Spirit of Fiesta is 19-year-old Jack Harwood, a first-year student at Santa Barbara City College. Harwood is studying kinesiology and engineering and is a dance instructor while being a full-time student. He also enjoys community service and accumulated 1,500 community service hours in high school while volunteering for several nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara.
This year’s Junior Spirit of Fiesta, 10-year-old Olivia Nelson, dazzled the crowd with her dance routine. Nelson is a fourth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School. She enjoys math and art that allows her to express herself. She enjoys flamenco, painting, skating and gaming. She gives back to her community by donating gifts to families in need during the holidays and performing at retirement homes.
The Spirit of Fiesta is selected to embody the vitality of Old Spanish Days and lead the annual parade, and to give visitors a visual representation of Fiesta.
View more photos from the event by clicking through the slideshow below.
First-time Fiesta attendee Jesse Tellez stumbled upon La Fiesta Pequeña on his way home from work. While he wasn’t sure what was going on at first, he decided to join the crowd getting ready for an evening of celebration.
“I love seeing the involvement of cultures playing together and everyone enjoying what Santa Barbara was founded on,” Tellez told Noozhawk.
For resident Brandon Pozzo, attending La Fiesta Pequeña helped give him a sense of community in Santa Barbara.
“This kind of thing feels really special,” Pozzo told Noozhawk. “There’s a rich Latino heritage in this area. It feels a little bit more like a small community within the bigger Santa Barbara.”
Pozzo said he was most looking forward to enjoying the evening’s live entertainment.
“Seeing dancing and music live is really electric,” Pozzo told Noozhawk. “It always makes me really, really happy.”
Fiesta continues on Thursday with La Misa del Presidente, a High Mass in the mission’s main church at 10 a.m.