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Largest Annual Community Celebration On Central, South Coasts Underway, But COVID-19 Concerns Cancel Most Events

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Old Spanish Days
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Old Spanish Days cancelled most of its major 2021 Fiesta events over COVID-19 safety concerns

Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days pulls plug on large events which attract crowds.

The South Coast’s largest community celebration is underway. But, because of the surge in COVID-19 numbers, almost all of the major events have been cancelled.

Santa Barbara’s pared down Old Spanish Days celebration kicked off Wednesday night.

La Fiesta Pequena, Fiesta’s traditional opening ceremonies took place on the on the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission.

The lively ceremony had traditional dancers, singers and speeches to kick off the celebration of the community’s heritage. What it didn’t have was an in-person audience. La Fiesta Pequena normally attracts more than 5,000 spectators.

Because of rising COVID-19 case numbers, Old Spanish Days organizers at the last minute closed the ceremony to the public, instead taping it for online viewing. Watch La Fiesta Pequena.

They also cancelled three nights of performances at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Fiesta’s two parades, as well as its Mercados — its food and entertainment marketplaces. The one public event still taking place is the Fiesta Stock Horse Show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

It’s normally one of the biggest weeks of the year in Santa Barbara for tourism. Despite the Fiesta setback, it’s expected hotels, restaurants and bars will still be packed.