A horse-drawn wagon in the 2019 Fiesta Parade in Santa Barbara.
After Santa Barbara’s annual equestrian-themed fiesta parade was canceled earlier this year, Old Spanish Days officials had planned a caravan parade of convertible vehicles. However, that event, which had been scheduled for Friday, as been canceled as well due to social-distancing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Noozhawk file photo)

The Old Spanish Days Fiesta caravan parade planned for Friday afternoon across Santa Barbara and Montecito neighborhoods has been canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.

“OSD parade organizers were told by (Santa Barbara) County and city officials on Tuesday afternoon that a parade could potentially cause people to gather, which would be in violation of county health orders and should be reconsidered,” said Angelique Davis, a spokeswoman for Fiesta, in a statement Wednesday.

Several popular festivals, large-scale ceremonies and other summertime traditions across the county have been canceled because safety measures were put in place in an attempt to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. 

Fiesta organizers adapted this year’s multi-day celebration in an effort to keep the spirit alive. 

Old Spanish Days leaders decided to re-imagine this year’s fiesta by holding some signature events remotely, and the organization explored innovative ways to host the most iconic event activity — El Desfile Histórico parade. 

A caravan parade was scheduled Friday instead of the traditional procession of horseback riders and live mariachi band music.

However, Old Spanish Days canceled the modified procession amid coronavirus restrictions. 

The parade was planned and coordinated alongside city officials in the hopes of bringing cheer to the community in a safe and socially distanced way, Davis said.

The route would have traversed more than 19 miles through the local community, and the parade was set to feature 20 historic convertible cars and trolleys with city police escorts, according to Davis.

The would-be parade route included Santa Barbara’s waterfront, Coast Village Road, the Mission Canyon area, near Elings Park and other scenic spots.

The public was encouraged to stay at home and wave at parade-goers at a safe distance, she said.

“As we have done from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Old Spanish Days continues to make decisions that are in the best interest of public health and safety,” Davis said. “To that end, we are not going to proceed with our small, but spirited re-imagined Fiesta caravan car parade that was scheduled for Friday.”

Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta begins Wednesday, running through Sunday, and it includes a televised event and online auction due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

La Fiesta Pequeña will be televised at 8 p.m. Wednesday on KEYT Newschannel 3.

The live broadcast will feature performances by the Spirit of Fiesta, Junior Spirit of Fiesta and other musical acts. 

At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, OSD will host music and dance via live stream on the organization’s Facebook page, YouTube and online at www.sbfiesta.org.

In addition, an online auction is open until Aug. 9, and people can bid on items that benefit Old Spanish Days. The items include limited-edition 2020 posters, wine and paintings by local artists.

“Our priority is, and will always be, our beloved community of Santa Barbara,” Davis said. “Old Spanish Days is proud to be an integral part of what makes our community special and we cherish our special bond with generations of local families and those who come to celebrate each year.

“Our wish is that Santa Barbara stays safe, healthy and keeps the spirit of fiesta alive in their hearts,” she continued. “The joy of fiesta will live on. Viva la fiesta!”

The annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo also has canceled its popular events this summer in Santa Barbara because of the pandemic.

The annual gatherings were planned to run Thursday to Sunday at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Click here for more information about Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.