For 93 years, since the first “Old Spanish Days” in 1924, Fiesta has been a celebration of the rich history that makes Santa Barbara such a special place. Annually, the experiences shared during Fiesta serves as a uniting force in our community.
Throughout the years, there has been the respectful recognition and steadfast reverence of the traditions born of its origins. The traditions of civility and dignity harken back to a time when life was difficult and often uncertain. Joy was found in the simplest of things. Celebrations often arose from the arrival of visitors, whether family, friends or those merely passing through town. It was truly a Fiesta!
As a fifth generation Californian whose family arrived as immigrants and established a dairy farm on the Rancho Los Osos during the time of the Great Rancho period, I am deeply humbled this year to serve our amazing community as La Presidente. My passion for the beauty and traditions that Old Spanish Days Fiesta celebrates knows no boundaries.
With our 2017 theme, Unity through Community, I am honored to pay homage to one of Fiesta’s greatest champions through the years, the late Father Virgil Cordano, O.F.M. He was the embodiment of unity through community, and it showed in every aspect of his life. Father Virgil’s legacy is the positive impact his actions had on Old Spanish Days Fiesta and our community; which continues to this day.
Lastly, I invite you to step away from the complexities of modern day life and allow yourself to be transported back to a magnificent period in our rich history. Take in the sights of the many performances representing traditions from many of Santa Barbara’s cultural influences. Immerse yourself in beautiful music. Most of all, experience the joy that the thousands of participants, volunteers, and community members openly share during Fiesta. Enjoy a little of our inheritance from old California.
Viva la Fiesta - Viva la Comunidad!
Rhonda Ledson Henderson
La Presidente, 2017