A Santa Barbara tradition continued Saturday April 14th as a boisterous crowd of nearly 600 people packed the auditorium of La Cumbre Junior High School for the Spirit of Fiesta Auditions.
The crowd was treated to astounding performances by the 11 finalists for the Spirit of Fiesta and the 9 finalist for the Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
17-year-old Jesalyn Contreras-McCollum was crowned the 2018 Spirit of Fiesta and 10-year-old Georgey Taupin won the title of Junior Spirit of Fiesta. The runners-up were Mia Lomeli and Lane Tatum Danhauer, respectively.
Both Contreras-McCollum and Taupin performed Flamenco dances as did almost all the other participants. Contreras-McCollum danced in Alegrias style to “Sobre el Arena” while Taupin performed in Alegrias style to “Que Bonito es Cai”.
"I'm excited and honored to represent this Fiesta and help celebrate traditions and our community," said Jesalyn. “I can’t wait for it to start.”
"I can’t believe it,” Georgey said. "I am so happy I get to participate in Fiesta with Jesalyn — she is such an amazing girl.”
Both of the winners represent local dance studios — Jesalyn the Linda Vega Dance Studio and Georgey the Zermeño Dance Academy.
The auditions were followed by Los Artistas, a reception at the Terrace Events Center at Pilgrim Terrace where all participants and audience members were invited to meet the new Spirit and Junior Spirit, as well as all participants and past Spirits.
The Spirit and Junior Spirit represent the charm and beauty of the culture of Old Spanish Days and they perform at many official Old Spanish Days events as well as at receptions held by area civic organizations.
Traditionally, the Spirit leads El Desfile Histórico while the Junior Spirit leads the Children's Parade. Most events take place the week of August 1 – 5.
The next event is the May 5 Spirit Luncheon followed by La Primavera on May 19.