Connection between Fiesta and the untimely demise of Will Rogers, as noted by Thomas M. Storke in his classic, California Editor (1958) which details his career and relationships with presidents, movie stars and leaders at home and across the nation.
“For many years Will Rogers was closely identified with our annual Fiesta. In the summer of 1935, when the city was being decorated with flags and bunting for our Old Spanish Days celebration, Will and flyer Wiley Post set out on a flight to the Orient in a “home-made” airplane constructed by Post.
A Santa Barbaran, Jack Petras, happened to be in Juneau, Alaska, the morning Post and Rogers rook off for Point Barrow, beyond the Arctic Circle. Petras drove out to the airport in time to see Rogers climbing aboard the plane. He plucked Will’s sleeve and called above the roar of the engine, ‘Greetings from Santa Barbara!’
Rogers thrust his head through the window and yelled back, ‘Give my love to Ed Borein and Tom Storke!’
My name may very well have been the last two words Will Rogers ever sent back to the outside world, for he and Post were instantly killed when their plane crashed near Pt. Barrow.
The sad news very nearly resulted in Santa Barbara cancelling the 1935 Fiesta. Finally it was decided, as a tribute to Will’s ever green memory, to carry on as he would have wished us to do.”