The Old Spanish Days board of directors doesn’t keep to tradition when choosing a location for its December holiday party, but this year that changed in keeping with a major announcement.
The organizers went back to El Paseo, the location of many an early Old Spanish Days celebration, and the old location of the organization’s office, to celebrate the naming of 2015’s El Presidente, take an official photo of the new board, and to announce that, for the first time ever, Old Spanish Days will be represented in the upcoming Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.
Charles Allen Stimson, better known as Cas, celebrated his first day on Wednesday as El Presidente, and he has been instrumental in getting Fiesta into the Rose Parade.
Some 60 years ago, the city of Santa Barbara was in the Rose Parade, but not Old Spanish Days.
The process took some time, but come this New Year’s Day, Fiesta will have its own equestrian entry, with horses pulling a platform where dancers will be recreating a traditional Spanish wedding, harkening back to the California wedding party celebrated in “Two Years Before the Mast,” an account by Richard Henry Dana and published in 1840.
Mr. Stimson is from Pasadena, but he met his wife, Dr. Kathy McClintock, here right before Fiesta.
“Our romance took off because of Fiesta, and since then I’ve met quite a lot of other couples that met during Fiesta and have gotten married.”
Because of that, he said, the theme for Old Spanish Days 2015 will be “Fiesta Romantica.”
It’s been a journey of more than a decade for Mr. Stimson to become El Presidente. He started volunteering in 2000, then became an associate in 2003. In 2005 he became a director, then became head of marshals, and last year he was the vice president.
When one is chosen vice president, the ascension to El Presidente is in the future.
The board is a working board and, “You do what you have to do to make it work,” Mr. Stimson said. “Ultimately we’re all responsible. … Fiesta makes you ready. You can’t assume it’s all going to come together.”
That makes 2014 El Presidente Dennis Rickard “El Presidente Pasado,” but he will still be attending various events. He was excited to see Mr. Stimson take over.
“What he’s doing for the parade, with his history with Pasadena, what he’s doing for the board members and parade, it’s fabulous. He’s an incredibly organized and efficient guy and every event will have a special touch that he’ll bring. I’m the one who brought him in and he did a terrific job putting on the parade last year.”
Wednesday night’s celebrations featured a dance performance by past Spirits of Fiesta, still wearing their white dresses from the annual August festivals.
“We put on events at 23 major venues. I would say out of 12 of them, one would be ‘the’ venue for any other organization,” said Mr. Stimson. “But somehow we make it work. We have people from all types of backgrounds here. And I like that.”
For more on the upcoming Rose Parade entry, be sure to check out Sunday’s edition of the News-Press.