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Largest Community Celebration On Central, South Coasts Cancels Popular Event Due To COVID-19 Surge

Lance Orozco
Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days celebration cancelled its annual Mercado De La Guerra for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

Less than a week from the start of the biggest community celebration on the Central and South Coasts, the surge in COVID-19 cases has forced the cancellation of part of it.

Old Spanish Days organizers say safety comes first, so they’ve pulled the plug on The Mercado at De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara. The Mercado is a marketplace which normally features four days and nights of live stage performances, as well as dozens of food and crafts booths.

It’s especially bad news for the food booths, which are big fundraisers for a number of non-profits in the community. And, with the cancellation coming at the last minute, some groups may be stuck with pre-ordered food.

As of now, Fiesta’s traditional opening ceremony on the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission is still on for next Wednesday.

Also still on are the Noches de Ronda — three nights of live performances in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse’s Sunken Gardens. The annual fiesta's historical and children’s parades had already been cancelled for 2021.

Aside from being a big celebration of part of the community’s heritage, Old Spanish Days is traditionally one of the biggest weeks of the year for tourism.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.