The crowd on the Camden Street Bridge. Photo by Scott Ball.
The crowd on the Camden Street Bridge. Photo by Scott Ball.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, hundreds of people are expected to crowd the Camden Street Bridge on the Museum Reach to watch 50,000 Mexican free-tailed bats take flight from their nests beneath the overpass.

At last year’s Bat Loco Bash, the bats didn’t show. But this year, the San Antonio River Authority is confident they will make an appearance, that is, if it doesn’t rain between now and Aug. 9.

The 4th annual Bat Loco Bash, presented by the River Authority with the the help of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Bat Conservation International, will run from 6-9 p.m. at the intersection of Camden and Newell streets. Attendees can expect food trucks, live music from local DJ Michele McKnight, and a bat parade with dancing drummers. There also will be a 1966 Batmobile, puppets, and characters such as SA Batman, Bat Girl, Robin, Echo The Bat, and the River Authority mascot will make an appearance.

An educational talk about bats and their importance to our ecosystems will begin at 7:30 p.m. The bats are expected to take flight around 8:30 p.m.

For those who cannot make the Bash, a Bat Loco educational talk will take place the week before the event on Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 6-9 p.m. It also will feature food trucks, the same speech on bats, and a viewing of the all-male colony’s flight around 8:30 p.m.

Summer West, the River Authority community relations coordinator, said the free event is one that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age.

“No matter whether you’re a little kid or a homeowner, we will have educational opportunities for (all),” she said. “Bats play such a vital role in our environment, so the goal of the event is to educate the community and for them to become inspired and share that knowledge.”

The bats have been coming out at 8:30 p.m. every night as of late to head South in search of food. The River Authority hopes it will be no different on the night of the events. But even if it does rain beforehand, the show will still go on. Last year proved that the public could still have a good time without the bats.

“We don’t have a magic button that says, ‘Okay come out now’ unfortunately, but protocol is that we will still have the event,” West said. “There have been years when (the bats) haven’t come out, but we are still going to have a big bash anyway.”

Regardless of rain, Cheesy JanesChamoy City LimitsStout Pizza Co., Fajitas Rita’s, Super Funnel Cakes and Bird Man’s Hot Wings will be on-site to provide food. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs to set up along the bridge, which will be closed off to traffic for the event. Attendees also can bring towels and sit on the grass near the river – another good spot to view the bats taking flight. 

Spectators sit along the San Antonio River. Photo by Scott Ball.
Spectators sit along the San Antonio River during the Bat Loco Bash in 2015.  Photo by Scott Ball.

When the event first began in 2011, only around 50 people showed up. This year, West said she expects about 1,000 people to attend both events combined.

“A great success from our point of view would be just to see all those people come out,” she said. “Part of (the River Authority’s) mission is to inspire action for healthy creeks and rivers. So by bringing the community out to learn about the ecology of the river system and what lives in the area, (we can) help inspire those individual’s actions, who (can) then take that information and spread it to even more communities.”

Top image: The crowd on the Camden Street Bridge during Bat Loco Bash in 2015.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Bat Loco is Back…Minus the Bats, For Now

The Bats Are Back, Say Hello at Camden Street Bridge

WATCH: Bracken Cave Bats Take Flight

City Acts to Protect Bracken Cave’s Bat Colony

At Risk: Planet’s Most Extraordinary Bat Colony

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Katie Walsh

Katie Walsh studies journalism and English at the University of Texas at Austin and will graduate in May 2017.