Spirit of Fiesta 2020 Alena Velasco, left, with Junior Spirit Alexandra Nocker. (Courtesy photo)

Alena Velasco has been named the Spirit of Fiesta 2020 and Alexandra Nocker the Junior Spirit of Fiesta 2020, Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara revealed in a surprise announcement made Sunday at the Arlington Theatre, which displayed the spirits’ names on its iconic marquee. The two will perform their first dance at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 18, on KEYT Channel 3.

The tradition of the Spirit of Fiesta started in 1949 and embodies the joy and vitality of Santa Barbara’s annual summer festival. The spirits are goodwill ambassadors to local residents and visitors alike, and represent the charm, grace and beauty of Old Spanish Days.

“I am very proud of Alena and Alexandra, and look forward to seeing them bring a lot of joy to our community over the next couple of months,” said Erik Davis, Fiesta el presidente. “Their resilience and perseverance in the face of the challenges of this year is a true representation of the Spirit of Fiesta.

“Old Spanish Days will continue to do our very best to honor our history, maintain our traditions and celebrate our Santa Barbara story together,” said Davis. “Congratulations to these talented dancers. ¡Vamos a Bailar!”

Velasco, 18, the Spirit of Fiesta, graduated from Lompoc High School in June. She was recently recognized for academic excellence for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for every semester of her high school career. Velasco loves dancing, choreography, singing, and volunteering at local elementary schools and nursing homes. She trains at the Garcia Dance Studio.

Nocker will be entering fifth grade at Vieja Valley Elementary School. Her favorite subjects in school are math and social studies. Along with dancing flamenco, she enjoys surfing, playing the violin, and acting. Nocker has received school awards for academics and citizenship, and she fundraises for Girls’ Inc.

She attended her first Fiesta when she was just six months old. She trains at the Zermeño Dance Academy.

Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to honoring and preserving Santa Barbara’s history, spirit, culture, heritage and traditions. Putting the health and safety of the community first, Fiesta 2020 will be reimagined and will hold many of its signature events online, on television, or in ways that adhere to physical distancing practices.

The theme of this year’s Fiesta is “¡Vamos a Bailar!” — in English, “Let’s Dance!” More information about Fiesta 2020 is at www.sbfiesta.org.