REEDLEY – Fiesta is right around the corner and with it comes the time-honored tradition of naming Reedley Fiesta royalty.
This year’s Fiesta king and queen will be John Urbano and Donna Urbano, who have been married for 38 years and attending the festivities for even longer. Selected by the Reedley Lions Club, the Fiesta king and queen are individuals recognized for their distinguished contributions to the community.
“I never imagined that’s something we would be chosen to do, and to be nominated is an honor,” Donna said.
In a letter supporting the Urbanos’ nomination, Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza said that “their exceptional contributions to our community, their unwavering dedication to service and their outstanding character make them truly deserving of this esteemed honor.”
John recently retired from the Reedley Police Department where he served as the animal control officer for 37 years, a role that earned him the Reedley Citizen of the Year Award from the Fresno and Madera Counties Police Chiefs Association in August. Donna has worked as a registered nurse in the area, ran the Reedley Girl Scouts for 27 years and helped with the Future Farmers of America at Reedley High School.
Through volunteering with schools, organizations and charities, the Urbanos have helped improve the lives of many in the community and “their genuine concern for the welfare of others and their willingness to lend a helping hand exemplify the spirit of service that the Reedley Fiesta Parade seeks to celebrate,” Garza said.
The couple, who started dating in high school, moved to Reedley from Selma once they got married and began to raise their family. They have two daughters and one granddaughter who will be visiting from the Sacramento area for Fiesta this year, which John said will “start a whole new generation of going to the Fiesta.”
Donna said she’s most looking forward to the chance to enjoy all aspects of the event and getting to experience what it’s like to be a part of Fiesta. The king and queen participate in the Fiesta Parade and then join in on the judging portion of the event as the marching bands conduct their parade performances, which is something that John is also looking forward to.
Donna said that they “haven’t missed very many Fiesta celebrations” since the couple first began dating and attending Fiesta together. John, who was raised in Selma and whose father was from Reedley, grew up going to Fiesta and brought Donna, who moved to Selma from Southern California, to her first celebration.
Aside from the parade, Donna said her favorite part of Fiesta is the frog jumping contest, which her daughters participated in when they were kids. For John, the best part of Fiesta has been growing up around it and making memories with family and friends.
“My uncle has a barbershop right in the middle of G Street, so all of our family would go out and find our spots for the parade in front of the barbershop,” John said.
Reedley Fiesta is Oct. 13 and 14 this year, with the Fiesta Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Oct. 14. Fiesta is a chance for Reedley residents to celebrate their community and reunite with friends and family who have moved away from the area.
Many class reunions are also organized around Fiesta and the event itself brings people back on a yearly basis, Donna said.
At its core, Fiesta is “a community-wide celebration of Reedley and the community coming together,” Donna said, and that aspect of it is something both of the Urbanos enjoy greatly.
This year’s Fiesta theme is “celebrating the world’s fruit basket.” For more details on the event and how to participate, visit the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce’s website.