Party in San Antonio
With tax season at a close San Antonio prepares for the biggest party of the year. Truly a citywide celebration, Fiesta San Antonio begins today. More than a hundred scheduled events continue through April 26, 2009. The tradition reaches back 118 years when citizens decided to honor the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.
Horse-drawn carriages, bicycles decorated with fresh flowers and floats carrying children dressed as flowers comprised the first parade. At the 1891 parade half the participants went one direction, the other half headed the opposite way pelting each other with blossoms as they passed – thus the name, the Battle of Flowers Parade. The 2009 version steps off down Broadway on Friday, April 24.
Additional parades have been added over the years including the popular Texas Cavaliers River Parade and Fiesta Flambeau Night Parade. The Fiesta Military Parade takes place on the parade grounds at Lackland Air Force Base. The King William Historic District sponsors a fair and parade; even canines get in the act with an official Fiesta Pooch Parade.
Every single official 2009 Fiesta event is sponsored by a local nonprofit group or military organization. Arts, performances, feasts, sports, music and balls attract more than 3 million attendees during the eleven days.
Many Fiesta events honor Texas’ rich history and heritage. One of the most solemn is the Pilgrimage to the Alamo (April 20, 2209). In tribute to the Alamo heroes a procession of historic, civic, patriotic, military and school groups walk in silence from the Municipal Auditorium to the Alamo. As each group places a floral wreath on the greensward the names of the Alamo defenders resound from inside the famed walls. These Sacred Walls (April 22, 2009), presented by a living historian dressed in period attire, tells the story of historical events leading up to the Alamo siege, the siege itself and its aftermath.
Much more festive is A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada (April 19 and 26, 2009). This event carries on the tradition of Charreria which originated in 19th century Mexico as a way for the gentry to prepare horses and riders for war. Over time Charreria evolved into an equestrian competition featuring horse reining, bull riding and roping skills.
Today’s charros (traditional horsemen or cowboys) wear the traditional clothes and use horse equipment as required by the Federation of Charros in Mexico. Young women demonstrate their riding skills in the colorful Escaramuza; six or twelve member teams execute precision movements while riding sidesaddle and wearing ranchera dresses. In addition to the Charreada there’s plenty of mariachi music, Mexican ballet folklorico, food and drink.
A Night In Old San Antonio – NIOSA – attracts a huge gathering to La Villita Historic District four nights during Fiesta (April 21-24, 2009). Friends and strangers meet and feast in the 18th-century Spanish neighborhood in the heart of downtown San Antonio. More than 250 food booths arranged in 15 ethnic areas serve up everything from Armadillo eggs (jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheddar cheese and baked in a biscuit-batter) to ZiegenBock beer.
Entertainers on a dozen stages provide music for noshing and partying – polka at Sauerkraut Bend, country & western at Frontier Town, The Sabas Trio at Villa Espana.
Nancy’s Notes: We loved our Fiesta San Antonio visit, for four days we took in all we could, morning to late night. I can’t quite imagine keeping up the pace for all 11 days – but, it might be fun to try. One of my favorite experiences was the Sunday Mariachi Mass at Mission San Jose. If you’ve every enjoyed time in San Antonio or have not yet visited this unique city, I suggest putting a late April visit on your destination list. Whether it’s the Sticky Wicket Croquet Tournament, Pinatas in the Barrio or Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour I believe you’ll enjoy the party in San Antonio.