UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: At 5:12 p.m. Old Spanish Days El Segundo Vice President David Bolton sent an email briefly stating that La Fiesta Pequeña, scheduled for Wednesday night on the steps of the Old Mission, was canceled “To all public viewing”. Bolton noted that the Noches de Ronda, or the night dances at the courthouse, have also been canceled. Check here for the latest updates.
The original story follows.
Before the Old Spanish Days executive committee stood on the Santa Barbara Mission steps this Tuesday to make a hastily scheduled announcement, the community waited with uncertainty.
The Fiesta Mercado de La Guerra was scrapped just a week ago, and the festivities have faced stiff opposition, wondering if large public gatherings would be safe for the city during the recent spike in COVID cases. . But for now, and unless county health officials decide otherwise, Fiesta 2021 is still going as planned, although safety protocols are in place.
“We continue our Fiesta spirit here in Santa Barbara,” La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow said of this year’s Old Spanish Days at today’s press conference. “We will do whatever we can. Everyone should stay safe and enjoy the Fiesta.
With the county recommending masks in public places, organizers are also encouraging masks regardless of vaccination status. Social distancing is also encouraged in all public places to curb the spread of COVID and prevent any epidemic in the community.
“The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance to Old Spanish Days,” said Petlow. “We have been in contact with the county health department; security protocols are in place.
The reduced activity schedule this year marks the return of the Fiesta after in-person events were completely canceled last year during the height of the pandemic. The annual parade was not relaunched for 2021 out of excess of caution, and with Santa Barbara recording its highest rate of COVID cases since February, the decision to cancel the De la Guerra Mercado was made after careful consideration of the number of people who would be in and out of the place during the events.
“The peak is alarming,” said Petlow. “That’s what made us cancel Mercado.”
Even with the cancellation of the Outdoor Mercado, officials felt the remaining events could proceed safely as long as these precautions were in place. Celebración de los Dignatarios and Noches de Ronda are proceeding as planned, and Dr Henning Ansorg and the county health department approve the protocols.
“The county loves the plan in place,” said El Segundo vice president David Bolton. He encouraged those who are not feeling well to stay at home and said officials will pay close attention to the health department for any changes in the coming days.
The annual event is slated to begin on Wednesday, August 4 with the Fiesta Pequeña at Mission Santa Barbara, and although the festivities have been reduced, Petlow says local dance companies still have public performances at La Cumbre Plaza and Paseo Nuevo. Some of the vendors who missed the Fiesta Mercado will be able to sit on the beach during the Fiesta Arts and Crafts Show weekend.
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