A sold-out crowd of 430 guests gathered in the Plaza del Sol at the Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort on July 30 to kick off this week’s Fiesta events. The event honored current Presidente Rhonda Ledson Henderson and 21 past Presidentes during a lively, entertaining affair.
The event was put on by the nonprofit Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc., which seeks to preserve and celebrate the Rancho Period of our history (1820-69). In this period of prosperity under Mexican and American rule, the people are known for their beauty, friendliness, civility of manners, and love for fiestas (“Spanish” Days refers to the language spoken).
Guests were warmly greeted by an official receiving line that included Henderson and her family, members of the Old Spanish Days board, Robin Hill Cederlof representing Santa Barbara, and the Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
During the cocktail hour, guests mingled in the grand Plaza del Sol while taking in views of the ocean through the classic arches. Many had donned formal Fiesta attire while others opted for more casual Western wear. The energy in the plaza was palpable, guests were excited not just for the evening’s festivities, but for the multitude of Fiesta activities to come this week.
For the first time, the evening featured a reunion of past Presidentes and their Spirits, which was a surprise even to the past Presidentes. After a three-member troupe from the Soldados de Cuero gave a classic salute, bugle and drum introduction, each Presidente entered from one side of the plaza while a Spirit or Junior Spirit of Fiesta (most from the same year as the Presidente) sashayed in from the other side….
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