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An appropriate Fiesta chant for 2020 could be “¡Viva Virtual!” The age-old party tradition is often compared to Mardi Gras, but on March 13 , the Fiesta San Antonio Commission smartly announced a postponement until November, thus avoiding San Antonio becoming a potential coronavirus hot spot.

In the meantime, Fiesta has adapted by moving its events online, offering several possibilities for safe partying during what would have been its traditional April celebration.

The official #AtHomeFiesta celebration begins Thursday, with the traditional Pin Pandemonium (pandemic?) opening-day party held on Facebook and Instagram. San Antonians are invited to share their favorite 2020 Fiesta medals and photos of past Pin Pandemonium events and purchase medals at a special online marketplace from 6 to 8 p.m.

Four virtual watch parties follow, broadcast live on KSAT-12. Parades from 2019 will be featured, including the Texas Cavaliers River Parade on Monday, April 20, from 7 to 10 p.m.; the Battle of Flowers Parade from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 24; the Fiesta Flambeau Parade on Saturday, April 25, from 7 to 10 p.m. The 2019 Battle of Flowers Band Festival will be broadcast Sunday, April 26, from noon to 3 p.m., to close out the official festivities.

The Fiesta Commission promises (pre-recorded) appearances by Fiesta royalty, including King Antonio XCVIII Phillip Bakke, Rey Feo LXXII Thomas R. Aguillon, Miss Fiesta San Antonio Calista Burns, La Reina de la Feria de las Flores Gabrielle Uribe, and others.

DIY River Floats

The San Antonio River Walk Association is adapting to the pandemic shutdown by offering anyone with arts and crafts skills to join its first Virtual River Walk Parade.

People are encouraged to use materials from home to create “floats,” with the only requirement that vessels be water-worthy enough to actually float. Individuals, families, nonprofits, businesses, and clubs are all welcome to submit, by recording a video of the float in a bathtub, sink, pool, or birdbath, then posting to its official Facebook event page. Instructions are available here, and submissions are due by noon on Monday, April 20.  

Paula Shechter, marketing and public relations director, advises not to fret too much over the quality of the homemade floats. “This parade refuses to be taken seriously,” she said in the announcement to news media.

Décor, Dancing, and Drinking

To help decorate your home during Fiesta, Ruby City offers a home tutorial on making papel picado.

While partaking in these craft projects, subscribers to the Spotify streaming music channel can select from two locally focused playlists. Aaron Peña, owner of The Squeezebox music club, has crafted a “living room dance party” set featuring Fiesta favorites like “Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio” by Flaco Jiménez and “Cumbia de la Cobra” by Fito Olivares y Su Grupo. Texas Public Radio has put together a playlist featuring San Antonio-themed favorites, including songs by locals Garrett T. Capps and D.T. Buffkin.

Twang has created three Fiesta-specific margarita recipes to make at home: Guava, Pickle, and Tamarind, with the San Antonio-based company’s ingredients available online. Other special margarita recipes by Diana Barrios Treviño of Los Barrios Family Restaurants and Jeret Peña of The Brooklynite are available on the Visit San Antonio website.

Family restaurant Mi Tierra, in addition to adapting as a grocery during the pandemic, is offering a special Fiesta Survival Kit for $75, which includes fajita meat and all the fixings, plus a dozen cascarones, a lotería game, and a string of papel picado.

The Fiesta Commission has optimistically rescheduled its official Fiesta celebration to Nov. 5-15, but anyone needing a socially distanced Fiesta fix this week can log on, tune in, and join in.  

¡Viva Virtual!

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...