Old Spanish Days: Kids to rule today’s El Desfile de los Niños

The Marquez family float will be near the head of today's Children's Parade.STEVE MALONE/NEWS-PRESS
The Marquez family float will be near the head of today’s Children’s Parade.

STEVE MALONE/NEWS-PRESS

The Historical Parade on Friday may have the horses, the carriages and all the regalia, but today’s Children’s Parade has all the cuteness.

The 84th annual El Desfile de los Niños starts above Victoria Street at 10 a.m. and continues down State Street, where the participants’ final destination at Ortega Street awaits: free ice cream, graciously supplied by sponsors Marborg and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.

The parade is arranged by the city of Santa Barbara’s Parks and Recreation Department, and usually under the all-seeing eye of long-time organizer Anita Ho. But this year, Ms. Ho has taken a well-deserved vacation and handed the reins to Terry Brown.

The parade offers a chance for families and children to indulge in the Fiesta spirit, along with numerous dance studios and intergenerational indigenous dance troupes.

Some local families will be represented by floats.

“Every fourth float, generally, represents a family that has been in the parade year after year,” Ms. Brown said.

One of them will be at the head of the parade this year, after El Presidente Dennis Rickard, the flower girls and Junior Spirit Natalie Mowers have passed by.

The Marquez family has created a special float that will feature photos of past Marquezes along with as many of the current family members who can get to Santa Barbara.

“They have been in the parade every year,” said Ms. Brown. “They are kind of an institution.”

The parade will feature 16 Marquez children, ranging from 17 to two 6-month-olds, Joanna and Dominic, along with their parents, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Even the ringleader of the float, Claudia Marquez, is not too sure whether to say cousin or nephew.

“At this point we don’t know anymore!” Ms. Marquez said. “It gets confusing, so everyone is a cousin.”

Some Marquezes are coming from Pasadena for the parade, and all will be wearing traditional charro outfits, along with colorful Mexican and Spanish flamenco outfits. The arches on the float are a nod to their grandmother’s house, and the entire float will be decorated with photos, Ms. Marquez said.

Other groups to look out for this year include ballet groups, gymnastic groups and folklorico groups, some from Los Angeles.

“It becoming a tradition,” Ms. Brown said. “Santa Barbara is becoming more of a destination for people who live in the community to invite people from outside. I’m finding that a lot of friends have a tradition of being in the parade, so they invite their friends up. It’s like one continuous party.”

The theme of this parade is Mi Casa en Su Casa — an apt title for this year and for the future.

The 84th annual El Desfile De Los Niños starts at 10 a.m. at Victoria Street and continues south along State Street to Ortega Street.

For more information: http://oldspanishdays-fiesta.org or 962-8101.

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