La Fiesta Del Museo

About 300 fiesteros converged on the Santa Barbara Historical Museum to enjoy the flavor of Fiesta early in the beautifully restored Spanish-style courtyard. It was alive with color. The tablecloths were in all the primary colors of a box of crayons – red, yellow, green, and blue centered with Mexican sombreros. The fountain was splashing near the new landscaping. Guests entered through a gallery where they couldn’t miss the silent auction while checking in and added to the colorful scene.

The bars were busy as everyone mixed and mingled before watching Spirit of Fiesta Alina Gabriela Rey and Junior Spirit of Fiesta Marissa Cordero (age 10) perform. When they danced the Sevillianas it took me back to my years in Spain. That is what everyone danced at the Ferias – not just the entertainers.

The Epicurean Cowboy catered the Fiesta buffet and we danced to the Jeff Elliott Band. This favorite fiesta party of many was headed up by Marilyn (Missy) DeYoung; her husband, Patrick, was Master of Ceremonies. Some of her committee attending were Carolyn Amory-Peck, Barbara Briggs-Anderson, Molly Dolle, Beverley Jackson, Melinda Mars, Eileen Mielko, Janet Sands, Penny Bianchi, April Walstad, Carol Doane, Lorinda Johnson, Cicely Wheelon, Patty Weber, Barbara Tomicki and Robin Schutte. Executive Director David Bisol, President of the Board of Trustees Ed Sands and the DeYoungs greeted all the guests. La Presidenta Kelly Magne added to the atmosphere in her Spanish dress.

During the party, David Olivera related the story of tri tip – a cut of meat known only to Santa Barbara County. It seemed appropriate for Fiesta when there are so many tri tip barbeques. “My grandfather and great grandfather,” David began, “said the butchers used to grind the tri tip cut into hamburger.” He then explained that “[My grandparents] asked to buy the piece whole for the same price and the butchers wouldn’t have to bother grinding.” Voila! The birth of tri tip. It’s a good story.

Viva la Fiesta! Viva! Viva! Viva!

Carmen Jones and Marilyn Horne

Are you old enough to remember the l954 musical “Carmen Jones” with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte in brand new Cinemascope? I was surprised to learn that “our very own” Marilyn Horne was the voice for Ms Dandridge, the first black female ever nominated for an Academy Award. Marilyn was only 20 years old at the time. It was a big deal!

The Music Academy of the West (MAW) invited donors who contribute $2,500 or more annually to the council towards scholarships for the students summer program, to view the classic film at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. As Chair of the Council of Contributors, Georgia Lynn told the audience, “It is the most sought after program in the world for classical students because of full scholarships.”

To entice us further we were treated to a Q & A with the ever-gracious Marilyn, conducted by Mashey Bernstein (UCSB Professor in the Film and Media Studies Department) followed by a decadent dessert reception. As Mashey said, “The highlight of the summer program at the Academy is like summer camp without mosquitoes and bad food.” Mashey remembered seeing “Carmen Jones” as an opera with his mom in Dublin, Ireland. He told us that Dandridge had a life similar to Marilyn Monroe’s, dying at age 43 of suicide or an overdose.

Ms Horne confessed, “I still sit and critique myself, but I was a pretty good singer.” Modestly stated, since she’s considered one of the great operatic voices of the world. Santa Barbara is lucky to have her as head of the summer program at MAW where she was once a student.

When asked why her friends call her Jackie, she replied, “Because my older brother wanted a baby boy.” When Mashey wanted to know, “What is your most valuable possession?” she answered, “Grandchildren.” Then, “When you meet God in heaven what would you like him to say?” Her response, “Oh, Jackie, you done good!”

We think so too.


The interior furnishings for Hospice Santa Barbara were done by architect Barry Berkus’s daughter-in-law Dana Berkus of Dana Berkus Designs.