La Presidenta Reception

By Lynda Millner   |   August 16, 2018
The Fiesta Flower Girls at work at the La Presidenta reception

One of the Old Spanish Days traditions is the president’s reception, and this year was no exception. It’s usually held in the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, which always brings to mind what the rotunda used to be in the old days – the train turntable and roundhouse. The great earthquake in 1925 destroyed the original. 

La Presidenta Denise Sanford at her reception

Southern Pacific’s new design wouldn’t pass under the tough new building codes until they made the exterior wall look similar to the famous “Plaza de Toros” bullring in Seville, Spain. I’ve been there many times. Fess Parker’s Red Lion Resort incorporated the rotunda on the skeleton of the old round house and opened in 1986.

Instead of bulls, there was a delightful Spanish evening complete with a complement of flower girls to greet all the guests as they entered. Then a receiving line for all the dignitaries, especially La Presidenta Denise Sanford and executive committee: first vice president Barbara Carroll, second vice president Erik Davis, secretary Stephanie Petlow, and treasurer Angela MillerBevan. It is the evening when all former presidentes are introduced and recognized; this time, more than a dozen as far back as Rudy Castillo in 1976. There were about 300 people to applaud their service to the community.

Denise introduced us to a new tradition. There were cascarones on each table, but not with paper inside. Instead, there was perfume which she said, “This goes back to an earlier tradition from Asia in the 1800s, where single women would mark the man they liked best with her perfumed egg.”

Linda Vega brought part of her troupe to back up the Spirit of Fiesta Jesalyn ContrerasMcCollum in a dance, and Junior Spirit Georgey Taupin did a solo. It wouldn’t be Old Spanish Days without all the wonderful dancing throughout.

In between the show, guests ate a Mexican buffet and drank margaritas. It may be Old Spanish Days, but they never heard of a tortilla in Spain. A tortilla to them is a potato omelet. Oh, well, never mind if we mix up a few cultures. Dancing under the stars to Elements ended the evening. Viva la Fiesta! Here’s to traditions.

Sponsors Richard Sacco and John O’Neill with Helen Capra and La Presidenta event chair Angelique Davis
Bernie and Heather Taupin with their Jr. Spirit daughter, Georgey. Dad is lyricist for Elton John.
Past Presidente from 1990 Peter Georgi with Debby and Roger Aceves, Presidente 2001

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