Montecito Bank & Trust gave its annual Fiesta party in their historic building at 1010 State Street. According to Chairman and CEO Janet Garufis it was completed in 1921 for County National Bank and is an historic landmark. Its design is Italianate, popular at the time and related to the Medici family chapel, an extension of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy. Lorenzo de Medici was the first banker in the modern sense of the word, and he was also a generous patron of the arts. Then Montecito Bank & Trust acquired the building in 1978 after it had gone through many hands. Michael Towbes tried to restore it to its former glory. It still retains its three original chandeliers and the Corinthian capitaled columns were gold leafed. There is even an original check writing table on loan from the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
It’s great fun to walk up to a teller window and instead of giving them money they give you a margarita. Not to mention the scrumptious freshly-made tacos. But best of all were the churros – better than doughnuts. In Spain we used to go to the market on Saturday so the kids could get them right out of a big barrel of grease. Yum!
It is due to COO George Leis that the bank does Fiesta. He loves it so we jokingly call it his party. Fiesta dates back to 1924 and many of the events represent the lifestyle of Santa Barbara in the 1800s. La Presidenta Barbara Carroll has as her theme “Spirit of Community.” As she says, “The varied events of Old Spanish Days Fiesta showcase the warmth, generosity, vivacity, and sense of fun we as a community have to offer.
An executive committee and a board of directors run Old Spanish Days. They produce over a dozen major events during the week. It’s amazing to think they organize nearly 5,000 different volunteers, participants, and performers. 2019 La Presidenta Barbara says, “I am a Santa Barbara native, former flower girl, and forever volunteer. She is a shining example of community coming together. This year about 100,000 folks attended Old Spanish Days, one of the largest ever.
The Spirit of Fiesta Sophia Cordero and the Junior Spirit Paloma Valenzuela were both at the bank to dance for us. Each has been dancing since age two and obviously still love it. Sophia was 2013 Spirit runner-up. Paloma is in 4th grade so is an old timer by now in the flamenco world.
If you like horses, there was the biggest parade of them in the United States (we think). There was a children’s parade. If you like to eat you could have hung out at the mercados. There was dancing on the Mission steps and the Courthouse. And much more. See you next year. Viva la Fiesta!