by Karen Schultz Anderson
The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is happy to join in on Santa Barbara’s First Thursday on March 1 with a brand new, free event — Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight. Enjoy a rare opportunity to visit El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park by candlelight and experience the site as you might have seen it two hundred years ago… in the evening. Sip a glass of wine and stroll around, while costumed men and women converse, cook and play period music and dance traditional dances.
The exterior of the Presidio will be decorated with beautiful luminaria guiding guests into rooms lit by candles. Inside you will witness historic conversations between Presidio Commandant Felipe de Goicoechea, Lt. José Francisco Ortega, and Governor Felipe de Neve, portrayed by Dr. Jarrell Jackman, Jim Martinez, and Michael Hardwick. In the chapel, you will hear Luis Moreno play music from Early California and see the Las Fiesteras dance troupe, directed by Diana Replogle-Purinton. Walk over to the cocina, where you will smell freshly prepared albondigas soup. Take a peek in El Cuartel to see soldiers relaxing in the evening; also enjoy visiting the Padre’s Quarters and see women working on handcrafts. You might even bump into a padre walking the corridor or a guitar-player strumming a tune. The evening will begin and end with military drill performed by the soldados del reál Presdio, under the leadership of David Martinez.
Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight, March 1st, 5-8 p.m., is a step back in time, and a wonderful family activity. So even if you have visited the Santa Barbara Presidio many times before, don’t miss this chance to see it again in this very different light. Who knows what will lurk around a candlelit corner?
Karen Schultz Anderson is the education director at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.