The San Antonio Fiesta is the city’s highly anticipated annual festival dating back to the late 19th century and is the city’s signature event. This year Fiesta will be held on April 19-29, 2018.
Fiesta San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. It has evolved into one of premier festivals in America. The commemoration still takes place, but for more than a century, Fiesta has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures. The festival initially started with the Battle of Flowers Parade and has grown to a 10 day celebration throughout the city. The highlights of the Fiesta include the original Battle of Flowers event, Texas Cavaliers River Parade, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.
The Fiesta is San Antonio’s biggest festival, with an economic impact of $340 million for the city. More than three million people take part, in more than 100 events that take place all over the city and beyond.
THE BATTLE OF FLOWERS PARADE
(April 27,2018. Friday 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM at E. Grayson and Broadway)
The Battle of Flowers Parade is the oldest event and largest parade of Fiesta, attracting crowds of more than 350,000. It is the only parade in the United States produced entirely by women volunteers. The ladies can easily spotted on the Parade Day dressed in yellow and wearing yellow hats.
The Battle of Flowers Parade started in April 1891, when President Benjamin Harrison visited San Antonio to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, the battle in which Texas won its independence from Mexico and became an independent nation – The Republic of Texas.
Inspired by the flower parades of Spain, Mrs. Ellen Maury Slayden, wife of Congressman James L. Slayden, suggested that San Antonio stage its own celebration on April 21st, in memory of the fallen heroes Texas. The women decorated carriages and buggies with live flowers and met in front of the Alamo, and threw the blossoms at one another, thus inspiring the name “Battle of Flowers.
Today’s Battle of Flowers occurs every Friday afternoon during Fiesta with several hours of decorative floats, marching bands, and other colorful parade entries. The highlight of the parade are the floats carrying the Fiesta royalty. The parade route takes all floats through Alamo Plaza and once in front of the Alamo, the participants stops and delivers a bouquet of flowers or a wreath to one of the cadets guarding the Alamo.
The crowd would yell “Show us your shoes!” at the Fiesta royalty.
The duchesses, queen, and princess traditionally wear tennis shoes, boots, or flip-flops that obviously don’t go with their jewel covered gowns and crowns.
The theme of the 2018 Battle of Flowers Parade is “300 Timeless Treasures.” The parade will bring to life fond memories, magical moments, monumental milestones, and hopeful visions – the heart and the spirit of the legendary city of San Antonio. Admission is $12 – $25. Tickets available for purchase at www.battleofflowers.org.
THE TEXAS CAVALIERS RIVER PARADE
(April 23, 2018 Monday 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM River Walk
This unique floating parade started in 1941 after a group of Texas Cavaliers witnessed boats and barges decorated with flowers in the “floating gardens” of Mexico City. This coincided with the San Antonio River bend restoration, and the Texas Cavaliers decided to adapt this unique experience to the San Antonio Fiesta. The first Texas Cavaliers River Parade included a number of boats for schools, local businesses, civic organizations and the army. Texas Cavaliers and the parade sponsors decorated every float with bright flowers and vibrant colors, and the tradition of the River Parade began. Today, hundreds of thousands of people line the banks of the San Antonio River to view the most unusual parade in America, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade!
This year’s parade is entitled “Magnificent Missions” and promises an evening of family fun with live music, celebrities and lights. More than 45 festively decorated floats sponsored by local community organizations and military installations will drift down the river. This year’s Fiesta King, King Antonio XCVI reigns over the festivities and will welcome spectators along the river’s winding route. The money raised through the parade is donated to children’s charities through the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation.
Founded in 1926, the Texas Cavaliers consist of over 600 business, civic and community leaders seeking to give back to the community and support those in need. Texas Cavaliers and their supporters have raised over $3 million. In 2016, they raised more than $1 million and helped over 900 children through monetary donations and supporting programs all across San Antonio through the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation.
Admission is $14-$26. Tickets available for purchase at www.texascavaliers.org
FIESTA FLAMBEAU PARADE
(April 28, 2018 Saturday 6:45 PM – 10:00 PM E. Grayson & Broadway)
This year will be the 70th anniversary of the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. The parade is known as the largest illuminated night parade and is the highlight of the Fiesta. The 70th Fiesta Flambeau Parade is lead by the University of Texas Longhorn Band and followed by spectacular themed floats, marching units, local, out of town and out of state bands, dance groups, equestrian units. The parade is considered the premier event of the 11 days of Fiesta San Antonio. The Fiesta Flambeau Parade will light up the streets of downtown San Antonio along the 2.6 mile route and viewed by more than 750,000 spectators.
The Fiesta Flambeau Parade was conceptualized by Reynolds Andricks. Taking the inspiration from the night parades of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. In 1948 he recommended that a ‘new’ parade take place at night and that it be called Fiesta Flambeau. The parade’s name comes from the French word for a candlestick or torch. In the event’s early years, four-man brigades marched between the other units, carrying torches on five-foot poles. Today, Boy Scouts carry safety flares.
To purchase advance tickets visit www.fiestaflambeauparade.org. Bleacher seating prices vary $16.50 – $30.
The three parades are just the main highlights of the fiesta. There are carnivals, art exhibits, The Fiesta Oyster Bake, Coronation of the Royal Court and 2 Kings of the Fiesta, music concerts, sports events, floral shows, historical tours and many more. All this is to promote and celebrate the diverse culture and history of San Antonio. You can learn more of various events here https://www.fiesta-sa.org/official-fiesta-event-calendar/
images courtesy of https://www.fiesta-sa.org