Jean-Michel Cousteau is Grand Marshal of Old Spanish Days’ El Desfile Histórical Parade

August 10, 2016

With the theme of “The Coastal Frontier,” this year's Old Spanish Days Festival in Santa Barbara served to strengthen the vital connection between the ocean and the areas historical culture.


Grand Marshal Jean-Michel Cousteau with Nan Marr
© Coty

Jean-Michel Cousteau was named this year’s Grand Marshal of the Historical Fiesta Parade, one of the largest equestrian parade in North America with over 600 beautiful horses, historical antique carriages and talented performers.


La Reception Del President. (l-r) Susan Venable, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Nan Marr, and Holly Lohuis.
Photo Credit- Fritz Olenberger, Old Spanish Days photographer

As an influential voice for the ocean, Jean-Michel shared his passion and enthusiasm at this most popular event of the 5-day celebration. This parade took place on August 5th at noon, with Jean-Michel and his partner Nancy Marr riding in a carriage near the front of the procession. As grand marshal, Jean-Michel aimed to “attract people to focus on the historical side of the coastlines, and to make sure that message has been shared” with all who attended the event. 

Thousands of Santa Barbarans and out of towners lined the streets to watch the parade, as passionate dancers, hundreds of equestrians, and historical carriages traversed the city’s most populous road. The parade illustrated major events in both California and Santa Barbara’s history. People performing in the parade included Descendants of Spanish Pioneers, local Native Americans, the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, and several local service organizations. As one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States, well over 600 horses were also walked the streets.


Silvio DeLoreto, Mayor Helene Schneider, J.C. Gordon, El Presidente of Old Spanish Days, and Jean-Michel Cousteau.
Photo credit, Holly S. Lohuis, Ocean Futures Society

Fiesta El Presidente JC Gordon stated that “the ocean has always been an important part of Santa Barbara’s rich history and influenced so many traditions that we celebrate during Old Spanish Days Fiesta.” Our Coastal Frontier is inherently tied to the history of our region, and Jean-Michel serves as a great representative of the oceans and defender of our varied culture. He contends that “diversity is synonymous with stability, the more that we have cultures that have been coming whether it is from Mexico, or the North or from all these islands it enriches us. It makes us better.”

Throughout the festival Jean-Michel strongly presented the importance of preserving our oceans. There is a critical connection between human culture and the ocean; if we protect the ocean, we protect our cultures and ourselves.


Jean-Michel Cousteau with Nan Marr
© Coty