Santa Maria’a newest park remains under construction but already has a name to recognize a man with a long record as an Elks Rodeo Parade organizer.
On Tuesday night, the Santa Maria City Council adopted a resolution naming a park in the Harvest Glen neighborhood after the late Robert “Bobby” Acquistapace.
He died in 2013 at age 63.
“The parade was Bobby’s love,” said his widow, Wanda Acquistapace. “Parades are for kids, and to have a park named after him where all kids could enjoy being outdoors, it’s so fitting.”
She recalled that he often bought 30 extra ribbons to enthusiastically hand out to young spectators along the parade route.
“That was what gave him joy,” she said.
The park, which sits at the southwest corner of Sonya Lane and Western Avenue, has basketball courts and a playground structure in place with more work to be done before chain-link fence can be removed.
The new park should be ready to open by late November or early December, according to Recreation and Parks Department staff.
Naming the park after Acquistapace came after a screening process that concluded with adding his name to the list of possibilities for future recognition.
Recreation and Parks commissioners took action to recommend honoring Acquistapace during a July meeting.
“I think Bobby is well deserving of the opportunity to have a park named for him. I think his family would be proud of having his memory memorialized like that,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada told commissioners more than two months ago.
Almost 60 years ago, avid horseman and rancher Acquistapace led the Elks Rodeo Parade as the procession’s junior grand marshal.
“The 1961 cavalcade was the commencement of what would amount to more than a half-century of patronage and participation in the Elks Rodeo & Parade by Robert “Bobby” Acquistapace,” Posada wrote in a staff report to the council.
From 1977 to 2009, Acquistapace served as chairman of the Elks Rodeo Parade and re-established the Elks/Minetti Mini Rodeo that provided thousands of elementary school children with an experience at the rodeo.
Fifty years after he led the Elks Rodeo Parade as a junior grand marshal, Acquistapace was selected to again ride in a place of honor in the procession — this time as grand marshal.
Aquistapace’s contributions to the Santa Maria community extended beyond the Elks Rodeo Parade. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Valley Economic Development Commission.
He also was a member and mentor of the Santa Maria Riding and Roping Club and the Vaqueros de Los Ranchos.
In 2012, the Elks Lodge awarded its longtime member with the Elks Citizen of the Year Award.
The city’s naming process allows nominations at any time to be added to a list of names for potential recognition, with criteria including leadership in community affairs, volunteerism and community enrichment.
Posada said the Recreation and Parks Department staff will work with Acquistapace’s family and the City Council to hold a dedication ceremony later this year.
A park in the Westgate Ranch neighborhood was named for retired Councilman Robert “Bob” Orach in 2017.