San Antonio Parties with a Purpose
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 25, 2010. The tradition reaches back 119 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 2010 version steps off down Broadway on Friday, April 23.
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 April 21st. 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 2010 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 19. 2010). 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.
The Alamo: These Sacred Walls (April 21, 2010), 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 18 and 25, 2010). 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 20-23, 2010). 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.
When we visited San Antonio during Fiesta San Antonio, we loved all the events we could cram into four days, from morning to late night. I can’t quite imagine keeping up the pace for all 11 days – but, it might be fun to try. If you’ve ever enjoyed time in San Antonio or haven’t 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 there’s a Fiesta event to match your interest. And remember, all the proceeds support one of the sponsoring non-profit organizations – join in as San Antonio parties with a purpose.
San Antonio Highlight
Although not one of the official Fiesta events one of my favorite San Antonio experiences is the Sunday Mariachi Mass at Mission San Jose, one of the churches comprising San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
The church at Mission San Jose is an active parish with a full mass schedule. The Sunday12:30pm mass is a bilingual/mariachi worship attended by parishioners and tourists. The welcome is warm but it’s advisable to arrive early since the church frequently fills to capacity. Please dress and behave appropriately.