Life’s a Beach

By Richard Mineards   |   August 9, 2018
(Top Row) Union Bank, Old Spanish Days Diamond sponsor Vince Caballero, Penny Sharrett, Randy Weiss (standing) Colleen Caballero, with guests Paul and Leigh Cashman, Peggy Nelson, Larry Gosselin OFM, and John Nelson (photo by Priscilla)

A plethora of presidentes, past and present, descended on the Hilton Beachfront Resort for the sold-out 70th annual La Reception del Presidentes, kicking off Fiesta week in grand style.

Georgey Taupin, Junior Spirit of Fiesta 2018, with her family, Heather and Bernie Taupin and sister Charley Taupin, a competing Barrel Racer (photo by Priscilla)

The fun fete, short on speeches and long on tradition with dancing and music, attracted more than 300 local dignitaries, including current La Presidente Denise Sanford and 18 predecessors.

Obviously celebrating the sweet smell of excess, each table in the tony hostelry’s rotunda had several pink cascarones, but instead of confetti, the eggshells each contained perfume.

Denise, who moved to our Eden by the Beach in 1982, explained it went back to an early tradition in Asia, where single women marked the man they liked. She urged the guests to follow suit.

Spirit of Fiesta Jesalyn Contreras-McCollumn and Junior Spirit Georgey Taupin, daughter of Elton John‘s lyricist Bernie Taupin, performed with a live flamenco band supplied by Linda Vega, as suitably garbed guests, including mayor Cathy Murillo, Janet Garufis, George Leis, Larry Gosselin, Peter and Gerd Jordano, Bernie Taupin, David Bolton, Stephanie Petlow, Roger Aceves, Ricardo Castellanos, and Rhonda Henderson, tucked into the buffet of tacos, elotes, and enchiladas as Drew Wakefield emceed.

But the undoubted highlight of the boffo bash, the 94th year of a collaboration between Old Spanish Days and the City of Santa Barbara, was the introduction of past presidents, going back as far as 1976’s Rudy Castillo.

Four days later, the party animals were out in force for one of Fiesta’s most popular events, Celebracion de los Dignatarios, held at Santa Barbara Zoo.

More than 1,400 guests, including KEYT-TV personalities Alan Rose, Mike Klan, and Alyce Martinez, Randy Weiss, Dean Noble, Julia McHugh, Bilo Zarif, Christopher Lancashire, and Wilson Quarre and Peggy Wiley, turned out for the hilltop hoopla featuring 55 purveyors of food, wine, and beer, which was expected to raise more than $80,000 equally split between Old Spanish Days and Rich Block‘s magnificent 30-acre menagerie.

Jesalyn Conteras McCollum, Spirit of Fiesta 2018, performing with a court of Flamenco dancers from the Linda Vega Dance Studio (photo by Priscilla)
David Bolton, OSD External Relations chief; 2018 La Presidenta Denise Sanford; OSD event chair Angelique Davis; and emcee Drew Wakefield (photo by Priscilla)
Guest of the Taupins are Nia Yates and Theo Avery, enjoying the festive La Presidenta reception (photo by Priscilla)
Penny Sharrett and Vince Callabero Union Bank Diamond sponsor with Congressman Salud Carbajal, Santa Barbara Zoo host/CEO Rich Block and happy birthday to Randy Weiss, SB Zoo Board director (photo by Priscilla)
Entertaining the audience is Spirit of Fiesta Jessalyn Contreras McCollum on stage for the Dignatarios gala at the Santa Barbara Zoo (photo by Priscilla)
Janice and Stan Howell line up for the Salsa tastings from Anne Altamirano and Joey Sulka of the Mesa Salsa Company, one of many gourmet food booths (photo by Priscilla)
Sharing a jovial moment: Grace and Carlos Lopes, Irma Robles of the Hotel Californian and sheriff Bill Brown (photo by Priscilla)
Patrons of OSD is Bill Fillipin, Community West chief banking officer; with La Presidenta Denis Sanford; Kristen Sneddon, SB councilmember; Assemblywoman Monique Limon; and Angelique Davis, OSD event chair (photo by Priscilla)
2018 honorary El Presidente Honorario DJ Kavanaugh and La Presidenta Honoraria Doris Kavanagh enjoyed being welcomed to the Old Spanish Days events in Santa Barbara (photo by Priscilla)
Sharing the Fiesta fun are Tara Stoker, Dolores Johnson, Clay and Sally Dickens, Peter Georgi, Andrew Wilson (seated) Mary Louise Days, Debbie and Roger Aceves (photo by Priscilla)

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