iesta 1965! This was THE year I was actually going to participate in El Desfile de los Niños. I had taken baton lessons through the Parks and Recreation Department's summer camp up on the Mesa. My sister Elizabeth (aka "Lizard") and friends Colette Hoeffliger and Debbie Ward were sooo excited at the idea of marching in the parade (heady stuff for kids then ...) Our moms made pompoms for our sneakers and stitched fringe on our sashes and sombreros ... we were really styling!
Enclosed are photographs of the parade ... This has truly brought back some wonderful memories for me and my family and I wanted to share them.
Lisa A. Mayer-Stecker
"Bradley, if you get your Fiesta outfit dirty, I won't clean it before the parade. I'm too busy making your sister's skirt," yelled my mother.
"But Susan is wearing her costume around the house now," I answered. My sister and I were to ride in the annual Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade with Marion Moreno, our riding instructor. Mr. Moreno was a rancher up in the San Roque Canyon who gave riding lessons and hay rides with his team of horses. Little did we realize that he was one of the last vaqueros or arrieros in our time. Horses were his life.
When we were 8 years old Mr. Moreno allowed us to start lessons. I was the younger, so I watched my sister ride off up through the mustard grass on Paloma, one of the team horses, for a year before I rode. Mr. Moreno met us up by the Langlo house where a gate met the end of Ontare Road. I had a team horse named Choppo. He was a black and white that was wide enough to make me know I had been on him. No matter how much I kicked Choppo he never changed his pace. The other riders were Neil and Janis McBratney, who were older than my sister and me. I was in awe of Neil's horsemanship.
We all started out doing day rides with Mr. Moreno. Sometimes we stayed for the night at his rancheria. There was no electricity. We ate with him in the cook house but slept in the main house. He warned us not to go out at night for he turned his watch dogs loose at night.
Occasionally we rode downtown to the Safeway on State Street between Micheltorena and Sola streets. Other times we tied up at the hitching post on Anapamu near Pelch and Sons. Marion was a first-class showman and I was proud to be in the act. I tried to act aloof while other kids stared at us. I held my reins with my pinky between the left and right rein while folding over the bitter end with my thumb. My right hand laid casually on my leg. I talked to Choppo and tried not to look at anything but Marion and the horses.
Come Fiesta, we all got fixed up with Spanish outfits. Mom had sewn red and gold ribbon down the sides of my black Hopalong Cassidy pants. At Jedlicka's I bought a black flat-brimmed hat. My white dress shirt for church and a red sash around the waist completed my costume. My sister wore the traditional multicolored skirt with white blouse and flowers in her hair.
We met at Pershing Park. There were dozens of stables behind the arena. The summer air was mixed with the stable smells and the vendors' food at the rodeo. Everywhere I looked there was the bustle of activity. I saw Leo Carrillo there with his palomino. Next to Hopalong, the Cisco Kid and Pancho were my favorite Western heroes. The bustle of the parade and the events in the arena whirled around my young eyes.
The parade started at Micheltorena and went down State Street. All the riders in their different costumes amazed me to no small end. Waiting for the parade to start gave me a chance to look at some of the silver inlaid black saddles. The hot air intensified the noise of the horses' clop. Bands tuned up while last-minute chatter continued. Everyone seemed to know Mr. Moreno and his horse Rey de Espades. At Fiesta he was in his element with his "Moreno's Riders." His dark eyes and thin mustache complemented his rough vaquero look. He had instructed us how to ride well and he showed us off. The crowd enjoyed us and we soaked up the moment.
Bradley R. Miles
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