Thousands crowded State Street and the Santa Barbara Harbor area Friday afternoon to take in the Historical Parade, a longstanding cornerstone of the Old Spanish Days Fiesta.
Some planned their lunch breaks around catching the 89th annual event’s noontime processional of horses, floats, colorful outfits and lively music honoring Santa Barbara’s historical traditions.
The parade, also popularly called El Desfile Histórico, was touted by organizers as one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States.
Some parade-goers had arrived hours early to place their chairs and blankets, while others had reserved and cordoned-off seats to see the action.
Sunshine finally peaked from behind morning clouds as hundreds of colorfully dressed riders on horseback lit up the streets, leading gallant steeds along streets typically well traversed with cars, bicycles and shoppers.
The parade started at the west end of Cabrillo Boulevard and marched east along the beach before turning up State Street, where El Presidente Josiah Jenkins turned on the charm for revelers from atop his horse.
At Jenkins’ heels were his parents, Si and Karen, whose images inspired and adorned this year’s Fiesta poster in a similar parade-marching pose.
Spectators dressed in festive attire — whites, greens and reds — watched the 2013 event from curbs, restaurant patios and from the upstairs windows or rooftops of State Street businesses and retailers.
On the sidewalks, children and adults alike shouted “Viva la Fiesta!” as they smashed confetti-filled eggs onto the heads of unsuspecting fellow revelers.
Passersby stirred up wafts of Mexican- or American-themed foods from nearby El Mercado De la Guerra, and a steady stream of mariachi music filled lulls in the parade’s march.
“Look at him jump!” a man yelled to his children, who wore giddy expressions after watching the high-stomping hooves of passing horses.
Plenty of amateur photographers also turned out for the event, which included a seemingly endless sea of cowboy boots, sombreros, confetti, flower hair pains and festive garb.
The five-day Fiesta festivities continue Saturday and conclude Sunday. Click here for more information.