La Presidente Rhonda Henderson Makes It Official in Mission Sacred Garden
Surrounded by local community and civic Leaders, and with the sacred garden of Old Mission Santa Barbara serving as a historic backdrop, 2017 Old Spanish Days La Presidente Rhonda Ledson Henderson unveiled this year’s Fiesta theme – Unity through Community. In Spanish, Unidos en Comunidad.
“Each year, the Presidente for Old Spanish Days has the privilege of selecting a theme for the coming year, and for me, Fiesta has always meant one thing – COMMUNITY!,” said La Presidente Henderson in making the much-anticipated announcement. “The Fiesta family is large and it extends well past our Board – our over 3,500 volunteers, our sponsors, the Mission, our City and County, our first responders, the dance studios, our collaborative non-profits, the artists, and the over 30 non- profits that stage their fundraisers around Fiesta.”
Inspired by the legendary and beloved community leader and Mission friar, Virgil Cordano, La Presidente Henderson chose this year’s theme after much consideration.
“In putting pen to paper and coming up with a theme to encompass the passion I feel for Fiesta, it wasn’t words that jumped out at me, it was a person -- Father Virgil Cordano,” she revealed. “It seemed logical if I wanted to capture the spirit of Father Virgil – to once again share with our community his love for Fiesta, his sense of community, of coming together as one – no words exemplify that more and his own words that we so often heard during Fiesta.” .”
“Father served on the Fiesta Board from 1963 until his death in 2008 – an impressive 45 years and the longest serving Director in our history. Father Virgil was an incredibly active participant in putting on Fiesta each and every year. His presence continues to be missed.”
The Fiesta theme is a large part of Santa Barbara’s summer weeklong Old Spanish Days festival, considered the largest of its type in the United States. This year marks the 94th edition of Fiesta, and it runs from August 2-6, 2017.
La Presidente Henderson is a fifth generation Central Coast native whose family ties date back to the mid 18-hundreds, and the famed Rancho period of California.
“It is an honor to serve as La Presidente for our 93rd annual Fiesta,” said La Presidente Henderson. “Part of the rich heritage we are preserving and celebrating is the Rancho Period. My great, great grandfather Patrick O’Connor arrived here from Ireland in the early 1800’s when he was only 9-years old. He ultimately settled just outside of San Luis Obispo where he started the largest dairy farm in the area on a part of the Los Osos Rancho. I have had no more enjoyment in celebrating my family roots than serving on the Old Spanish Days Board for the past ten years and preserving the rich history of the Rancho Period.”
Contact: David Bolton
2017 OSD Press Chair
Web Development James Breen: seeingis.com
Photos by Fritz Olenberger Photography