Marisa Leon-Haro, 17, was named the 2011 Spirit of Fiesta on Saturday as the pace of Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta celebration began to quicken. Wearing a bright yellow dress, before a cheering crowd at La Cumbre Junior High School, Leon-Haro danced her way into the role with a spirited Flamenco Alegrias.
Also dancing a Flamenco Bulerías in yellow was the Junior Spirit winner, 11-year-old Anais Crespo Peña.
Leon-Haro, who attends St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, and Peña, a student at St. Raphael School in Goleta, will serve Old Spanish Days Fiesta as community ambassadors performing before and during Fiesta, which is held Aug. 3-7 but is preceded by a number of traditional and popular events. The Spirit will lead El Desfile Histórico, the downtown parade on Aug. 5, and the Junior Spirit will lead the 81st annual El Desfile De Los Niños, the children’s parade, on Aug. 6.
Natalia Perea, a former Junior Spirit who attends San Marcos High School, will serve as Spirit runner-up. Jessalyn McCollum, a student at Valley Christian Home School, will serve as Junior Spirit runner-up.
The Spirit of Fiesta competition drew 11 contestants, while 10 dancers competed for Junior Spirit.
All four Spirits will perform their first official dances at the Spirit Luncheon on April 30 at the Carriage and Western Art Museum, 129 Castillo St. Tickets are available at the Old Spanish Days office at the museum, or call 805.962.8101 for information.
— Kathryn McKee is media relations director for Old Spanish Days Fiesta.