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Every August, the city of Santa Barbara celebrates its Spanish, Mexican, and Native American heritage with the “Old Spanish Days Fiesta”, a somewhat romanticized view of Santa Barbara’s historic Rancho Period (1830-1865). It’s easy to romanticize Santa Barbara: the beautiful weather, geography similar to the Mediterranean Riviera, a backdrop of mountains and ocean, and a uniform architectural style invoking the city’s Spanish colonial past. In 1925, a 6.3 earthquake devastated Santa Barbara requiring reconstruction of the entire downtown area. An Architectural Board of Review was formed and “guided” the necessary rebuilding according to its preferred Mediterranean-style architecture, which the current city government continues to mandate. It can be difficult to spot a 7-Eleven, Wells Fargo, or Apple Store because white stucco, a red tiled roof, wrought iron, and decorative tile hide its identity.
Anyways, the 92nd annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta parade coincided with my first bus ride downtown. Santa Barbara may be known as the “American Riviera” but the area’s transit system is anything but five-star. A bus ride from Goleta to downtown Santa Barbara takes an hour (a ten-minute drive by car), runs only four times a day, and is packed by the sixth stop. As Barb, my seatmate for that hour said, “If the wealthy residents rode buses, it would be a different story.” Santa Barbara MTD officials drastically decreased funding for the transit system in 2013, reducing the frequency of bus runs, cutting weekend service, and eliminating some lines all together. Given the tax base of Santa Barbara County, it seems strange that such a vital aspect of city life would be so discounted.
Blondes on beautiful horses.
The parade route is lined with family stands selling traditional cascarones (hollowed out, decorated, confetti-filled eggs). Having an egg smashed on your head brings good luck and the streets sparkle with the possibilities of great fortune.
Susan Feniger’s Angry Eggs