Fiesta Finale 2018

By Lynda Millner   |   July 26, 2018
Logo The cover photo for the Profant Foundation Fiesta Fete

Join the Profant Foundation for the Arts as they celebrate Santa Barbara traditions Sunday, August 5, 5:30 to 9 pm at the El Paseo Restaurant. There’ll be fabulous cuisine, vibrant costumes, lively music, and dancing all while raising funds for scholarships.

The cover is from a poster from the 1947 movie Fiesta, which starred Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse. It will come to life in a tableau during the party. The following is from a letter the Profont Foundation received from Ricardo in 2001 as the organization was just beginning:

Within the human spirit is a spark – a spark that is meant to be expressed. Some do so through the creativity of teaching others through the art of medicine. Many find a very strong pull to communicate that spark through the performing and visual arts. However, life often gets in the way of this pursuit, and many talented artists are unable to pursue their goals and develop their talents because of family commitments or financial limitations.

There is an organization that assists these developing artists in need. The John E. Profant Foundation for the Arts provides scholarships, funding for art education and performing and exhibition venues to artists, regardless of age. I urge you to support this unique organization. Join them for the Fiesta Finale… in Santa Barbara and experience first-hand what they are doing for artists and the community. Sincerely, Ricardo Montalban

Where did the Profant Foundation come from? Its roots began nearly 100 years ago, when Henry and Mabel Profant moved from Chicago to Santa Barbara in 1922. He was one of the founding doctors of what became the Santa Barbara Medical Foundation. Both were pianists who were on the boards of CAMA and The Music Academy of the West. Henry entertained his patients by playing piano while on house calls. It wasn’t always apparent which was more effective, the music or the medicine!

Their daughter, Dorothy, became a concert pianist and performed at the Lobero Theater. Their son Bob was a professor of marine biology at SBCC and helped the Museum of Natural History for decades. His brother John was the father of the four daughters: Marie, Musette, Michele, and Mignonne.

The girls’ parents have a great love story. While visiting his mother in 1950, John happened to go to El Paseo during Fiesta. He had been teaching ballroom dance and performing at the County Bowl with Jose Manero’s company, so when he asked their mother, Lyn, a former ballerina to dance, it was magic.

Lyn, a teacher at Franklin School, went home that evening and told her girlfriend that she had met the man of her dreams. The girlfriend was so disappointed because she had wanted to introduce Lyn to someone so perfect – and it turned out to be the same person, John Profant. 

According to daughter Marie Profant, “Their first date was a CAMA concert and a ride along Cabrillo Boulevard while he sang “La Vie En Rose” in Francais. Now how romantic is that?” Later in life, in his 40s even though he was a busy executive, John took up singing lessons again after seeing Pavarotti perform. Sadly, John passed away shortly after retiring from Northrup Aircraft. It was only natural for the Profant girls and mom Lyn to create a charitable organization in the spirit of generosity established by their father John.

This year’s tableau will include dancers Kristen and Serge Chmelnitzki, who own the Arthur Murray Dance Studio along with David Bolton, Richard and Armanda Payatt, Erin Graffy, and James Garcia. Ricardo Chavez and his company will bring fiery Flamenco to the stage and co-chairs Julie Ann Brown and Marie Profant will be greeting guests. There’s a costume contest and dancing under the stars. Last year, the fiesta event was sold-out so make you reservations by emailing: or call (805) 705-9179. Viva la Fiesta!


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