by Kevin McGarry
On Saturday, September 29, 2018 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a very large family reunion at the historic Alhecama Theatre. Over 100 descendants from the original soldado families who founded El Presidio Real de Santa Bárbara for the Spanish Crown in 1782 traveled from near and far to convene at our annual Presidio Descendants Luncheon. SBTHP’s Genealogy & Descendants Committee hosted the event and SBTHP staff and volunteers prepared a traditional tamale lunch with rice, beans, and salad donated by Rudy’s Presidio restaurant. Sangria flowed and the theatre was filled with lively conversation and laughter. SBTHP’s El Coro director Luis Moreno played traditional Spanish folk songs, and raffle tickets were sold with all proceeds benefitting the effort to host this special annual program.
Presidio Descendant and G &D Committee member Suzi Bellman shared stories about her family and SBTHP Board President Debby Aceves (also a presidio descendant) welcomed all and handed out cookies to guests. Associate Director for Public Engagement Kevin McGarry facilitated a live auction which raised over $150 in under three minutes! Raffle prizes included limited edition Fiesta posters from years past, gift baskets and books relating to local history and culture.
As the person who was running to Rudy’s to get more beans, it was clear that all attendees of the luncheon came hungry and left full. One of SBTHP’s core values is to “activate the power of places of memory to engage the public with a deeper understanding of the past and inspire action to shape a better future.” This idea informs all our public programming but resonates most in this special annual event. It is a privilege to invite presidio family members home to celebrate their heritage with one another. We look forward to next year’s Presidio Descendants Luncheon. For more great photos from this year’s luncheon, visit our Flickr Album here.
Kevin McGarry is the Associate Director for Public Engagement at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.