Old Spanish Days Officials Offer Explanation for Flurry of Fiesta Cancellations

VP Bolton Says They Wanted to ‘Play Things Safe’; La Presidenta Petlow Says Even One Fiesta-Caused COVID Case Would Be Too Many

VP David Bolton said that Public Health had been giving advice but not mandating a closure, while La Presidenta Stephanie Petlow said it came down to committee members asking, "What would you do for your family?" | Credit: Ryan P. Cruz

A bare five hours after Old Spanish Days closed its press conference on Tuesday afternoon to announce Fiesta would continue, except with masks and social distancing in place, El Segundo Vice Presidente David Bolton sent quick emails stating Wednesday night’s Fiesta Pequeña would not be open to the public and that the courthouse Noches de Ronda were canceled. Tardes de Ronda and Flor y Canto are also canceled.

Bolton cited a decision by Old Spanish Days officials to “play things safe” and that Public Health had been giving advice but not mandating a closure. Stephanie Petlow, La Presidenta for Fiesta this year, said the rationale had been the same they took in canceling Mercado De la Guerra last week: the very large crowds and a concern for the health and safety of the community. It came down to committee members asking, “What would you do for your family?” and that even one case as a result of Fiesta would be too many, she said.

Ticketed and private events like Celebración de los Dignatarios at the Santa Barbara Zoo and the Horsemen’s Rendezvous at the Carriage and Western Art Museum would continue, as the number of guests could be controlled, Petlow said. The same thought kept the open-air rodeo in place. The arts and crafts show is currently a go and is where some mercado vendors will be able to set up their wares.

Fiesta Pequeña rehearsals took place as scheduled on Tuesday evening, as many driving by the colorful event noted. Bolton said they were indeed rehearsing for Wednesday’s performance, which would be taped — and again asking for the public to stay away. The footage will be released at an as-yet-unknown time.


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