As the official opening open of Old Spanish Days Fiesta closes in, here’s a look back: Excerpted from the WPA American Guide Series to Santa Barbara, 1941.
A latent longing for the less prosaic was found everywhere under the surface of the casual, and it soon found expression in the task of re-creating the romantic yesterday. In every home there were preparation and anticipation. All-but-forgotten melodies and dances were revived. Charming ladies had learned them in their long-gone youth and, though their years bordered on the century mark, they graciously and skillfully taught them to eager new generations.
The city was draped in scarlet and gold, the old royal colors of once mighty Spain. Precious heirlooms, unearthed from family chests, again graced proud forms—quaint ruffled frocks, gay shawls, and high, gracefully carved combs. Silver braid, bright sashes, and broad sombreros emboldened the most retiring citizens as they embarked on the synthetic adventures of other days and other ways.
This was the atmosphere of the first old Spanish Days Fiesta in 1924, and the same spirit has characterized every subsequent renewal.