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Any San Antonio native or longtime resident knows that the dawn of spring means the dawn of Fiesta, one of San Antonio’s most beloved city-wide celebrations of culture, food, and history.
What started in 1891 as a one-parade event honoring the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, is now a widely-known, 10-day celebration that annually transforms downtown San Antonio into a technicolor party ground. Residents and visitors alike flock to the hundreds of Fiesta events, donning their brightly-colored clothing and wanting a piece of the cáscaron-cracking, flower-crown-and-medal-wearing action.
Fiesta has grown to become a tradition in thousands of San Antonio families, but even the most seasoned Fiesta-goers will experience a few firsts at this year’s celebration, which will take place from April 14-24.
“This year is the 125th anniversary of Fiesta, which makes this year different than most,” said Alexa Borrowski, San Antonio Fiesta Commission director of communications.
The return of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to the city will have more than a few San Antonians screaming “Viva!” this Fiesta season, which is typically a high time for heavy drinking. Uber has teamed up with the Fiesta PASS campaign to offer discounted rides to Fiesta-goers, Borrowski said, a saving grace for those who choose to, well, fiesta, with a few drinks or for those hoping to avoid the horrendous lack of parking at events. Keep a look out for more details in the near future.
VIA Metropolitan Transit will also be providing “Special Event Park and Ride services” to and from several Fiesta events starting on April 15. The fare is $2.50 each way with discounted fares available for children, seniors, students, and active-duty military in uniform or with a VIA Reduced Fare ID. Cash and credit cards are accepted at the park and ride locations.
For more information and the VIA Fiesta park and ride schedule, click here.
While traditional favorites like the Fiesta Flambeau Parade, NIOSA, and Cornyation all have their place in the official Fiesta schedule of events, attendees can enjoy a few new events as well, including:
- 125th Anniversary Celebration Gala — Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center’s Stars at Night Ballroom, 900 E. Market St.
- Fiesta Kings Cup 2016 — Saturday, April 9-10 from 1-5 p.m. at Olmos Basin Park, 651 Devine Rd.
- FUR-esta Fashion Show and Festival — Sunday, April 17 from noon-3 p.m. at the Animal Defense League, 11300 Nacogdoches Rd.
- Fiesta Flambeau Parade Viewing Party — Saturday, April 23 from 6-11:30 p.m. at the Villages at Stone Oak, 22610 US-281 N.
Fiesta 2016 parade-goers will notice a new Parade Seat Finder feature on the official Fiesta app to help them locate their seats, Borrowski said. There will also be new “Fiesta Supersites” along the parade routes acting as “an oasis from the parade crowds,” she added. Each site will offer refreshments, samples, and giveaways provided by Fiesta partners including, Chick-fil-A, AARP, and State Farm among others.
This year’s Battle of Flowers parade will also feature several event firsts, said Anna-Laura Block, 2016 Battle of Flowers parade chair.
Longtime, local businesswoman Rosemary Kowalski, 91, will assume the coveted 2016 parade Grand Marshal position, and retired Major General Angela Salinas, the first Hispanic woman to become a United States Marine Corps general officer, will serve as Honorary Grand Marshal.
“We’ve never had both the Grand Marshal and the Honorary Grand Marshal of the parade both be ladies,” Block said. “We’re really excited to have two such powerful women at the helm.”
Additionally, for the first time ever, a flyover by two U.S. Air Force T-38 planes will signal the start of the parade at 12:20 p.m, said Block. This year will also be the first to feature live broadcasting from the Alamo, where a performance by the Texas State Strutters will take place as part of the parade’s opening act.
And this year’s parade theme, “Texas Traditions…125 years,” is sure to tie all of the celebrations together in the spirit of commemorating one of San Antonio’s longest celebrated events.
“We wanted to have an idea of something that (San Antonians) can relate to that’s more of a familiar tradition,” Block said.
Eight local public school parade participants will be assigned one “Texas tradition” to design their floats around, she said. Traditions to be featured include: Texas homecoming; Texas folk art; Texas pastimes; Texas critters; Texas humor; Texas landscapes; Texas fairs; and Texas music.
As always, Borrowski said, Fiesta-goers are strongly encouraged to dress comfortably, wear sunscreen and a hat, and stay hydrated.
*Top image: Attendees show off their Fiesta medals during the 2015 Fiesta Oyster Bake. Photo by Kay Richter.