Rhonda Ledson Henderson, La Presidente of 2017’s Old Spanish Days, vividly remembers the Fiesta parades of her youth. “My parents said it was my birthday party,” laughed the August baby. “They were really good storytellers — and really cheap.” They were right, in a way, too: Henderson would remain very close to Fiesta in the years to come.
A lifelong lover of Fiesta history and lore whose family can count multiple generations in California — her father’s side arrived as immigrants and established a dairy farm on Rancho Los Osos — Henderson takes on the role of La Presidente after serving for 10 years on the Old Spanish Days Board. “It is truly an honor,” she said of the title.
For Henderson, Fiesta is all about togetherness, emphasizing this year’s theme, Unity Through Community, or Unidos en Comunidad. “Fiesta truly is a community event — it takes more than 4,000 volunteers and over 40 nonprofits, and it couldn’t happen without them,” she said, citing everyone from the dancers to the police personnel who make it all happen. Mentioning the generous spirit of the late Father Virgil Cordano, she hopes to honor the history of Old Spanish Days while “bringing as many people together as possible.”