CycleMAYnia Cinco de Mayo Mural Bike Ride!

CycleMAYnia Cinco de Mayo Mural Bike Ride! (Courtesy)

CycleMAYnia is a month long festival promoting bicycling in our community. The weather is great to get on your bikes and ride! And local governments and organizations are organizing a wide range of events for the occasion. Here you can see the full schedule of events.

For Cinco de Mayo, local historian and writer Michael Montenegro led a delightful Mural Bike Ride. Starting at the Boom Boom Room bike shop on De La Vina near Mission Street. And ending at Bici Centro, a MOVE Santa Barbara County community bike shop.

Here are my photos and here is my video playlist.

Here Michael gave a sendoff talk as we gathered for the ride.

First stop on the ride/mural tour was the entrance atrium of the Arlington Theater.

Michael explained the symbolism of this mural over the entrance to the theater. That theatrical performance was heavenly, symbolized by the performers up in the clouds.

He directed our attention to these lights above the entrance that look like stars. He explained they actually represent pinatas!

Here is my video of his explanation.

We then made a brief stop at a famous sculpture of a Native American woman at the corner of State Street and Victoria Street. Michael explained that she is the “Lone Woman” of San Nicolas Island, who was later named Juana Maria.

But I found this interesting entry in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) that claims it is actually a sculpture of Sacagawea. Perhaps someone else can say more? The base of the sculpture shows it was created by artist Harry Jackson in 1980 and that it was cast at the Wyoming Foundry in Italy. Jackson lived in Wyoming, hence the name.

It was a short ride down State Street to the San Marcos Building courtyard. Michael directed our attention to cameos depicting local historical figures, including Padre Junipero Serra and Juan Bautista de Anza. I have been in this courtyard many times, but never looked up to see these! I thanked Michael!

We then biked to the building in the former Chinatown area of Santa Barbara that originally housed Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens. It was opened in 1947 by Jimmy Yee Chung and was later run by his son Tommy Chung, who closed the restaurant in 2006. The following year, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation bought the building.

My friend Barbara Chung, daughter of Tommy Chung, grew up in the adjacent residence. She is normally a rather shy, quiet person. But she opened up about the lively history of the place in a film in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival several years ago. The building now houses Three Pickles Subs & Sandwiches.

Michael Montenegro showed us a beautiful mural on the side of the building, created by DJ Javier for the Year of the Dragon. As with most murals in Santa Barbara, it is only temporary.

Here is my video of Michael’s explanation.

We took a longer bike ride to get to the Santa Barbara High School campus. To the library. To see a complex mural by Manuel Unzueta. A lot is going on in this mural. A glorification of knowledge. A lot of Mexican-American pride and history. And pride in being Americans.

Here is my video of Michael’s explanation.

Back in 1975 this same artist Manuel Unzueta created a magnificent mural on Salsipuedes (“get out if you can”) Street, near Ortega Park. Unfortunately, it was vandalized and eventually it was painted over. A plaque keeps the history alive.

Here is my video of Michael’s explanation.

Nearby Ortega Park is scheduled for major renovations and improvements. But the community wanted to be sure to preserve the murals and history in the park.

Here Michael explained about this other mural created by Manuel Unzueta that lives on. Depicting farm workers/campesinos harvesting the food that we enjoy. You may recognize the logo of the United Farm Workers union.

We then made a short ride to the Bici Centro bicycle shop to end the tour. Bici Centro grew out of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition work we were doing when I was President in the late 1990s. It has grown into a wonderful community center where local kids can learn to repair bicycles and earn one to own. It is now run by MOVE Santa Barbara. Here we arrived and entered.

This guy impressed me with his tall bicycle, riding on our tour. I ride a tall unicycle with no problem, but a tall bicycle would scare me! No way to jump off if there is a problem!

Inside, Michael served up free tacos for everyone!

As the group settled in with their tacos, Michael gave a fascinating talk on the history of Cinco de Mayo. I have recorded his entire presentation!

If you missed the ride this year, be sure to catch it next year!

Robert Bernstein


Written by sbrobert

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