After the pandemic caused a pause in 2020 and a smaller celebration in 2021, the Battle of Flowers and the Fiesta Flambeau parades will make a grand return this year, but on a new route due to construction.
For years, the Fiesta parades marched toward downtown beginning at Broadway near the Pearl District on a 2.8-mile route. Because of several construction sites on Broadway, and restorations at the Alamo, sections of the route had to be moved, resulting in a slightly shorter trek of 2.3 miles.
This year, participants in the parades will form near San Antonio College with the parade route beginning at North Main and Locust streets.
Each parade will continue on North Main Street for about seven blocks and pass Crockett Park before moving onto Lexington Street. After passing Madison Square Park, the parades will go along North St. Mary’s and onto Brooklyn Street where a section of bleachers will be located. The parades then move onto Avenue East, pass Alamo Plaza and conclude at Commerce and St. Mary’s streets.
There were multiple iterations of the route, said Linda Skop, public relations director for Fiesta Flambeau. The City of San Antonio and the Fiesta Commission finally settled on the new route after considering many factors, she said.
“One, a lot of the floats are pretty wide, so we needed a street that had at least four lanes,” said Skop. Because a number of nonprofits sell street chairs along the route, the commission considered part of the street would be covered by people sitting in those chairs, she said.
“We also needed a place where there were places along the parade route where vendors could be, or other attractions,” Skop said.
Though parade routes are shorter this year, Skop said there are almost 200 entries in the Flambeau parade, so a speedier parade isn’t guaranteed.
This year, Fiesta begins March 31 because of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The Battle of Flowers Parade will be on April 8, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade, known for being the largest night parade in the country, will be on April 9.
Limited seating is available at Alamo Plaza, and Skop said officials have asked Fiesta-goers to respect the area as a “shrine.” As a result, Skop said the area may not be as “raucous” as it has been.
“We’re hoping for lots of people,” Skop said. “Depending on what happens with COVID,  could be even bigger. Judging from the attendance, and some pre-Fiesta events, I think people are ready to party, celebrate and to eat chicken on a stick.”
In addition to other attractions, rapid COVID-19 testing and vaccines will be available along the parade route.
To get Fiesta-goers downtown for the parades, VIA Metropolitan Transit is offering its Fiesta Park & Ride service from the Crossroads Park & Ride in Balcones Heights, with drop-offs at Convention Way Drive. The fare is $2.50 for each way.
For the Battle of the Flowers parade on April 8, VIA’s service runs from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. On April 9 for the Flambeau parade, buses will run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“The purpose of the Flambeau parade is to celebrate our different cultures and traditions. We look forward to entertaining the public this year,” Skop said.