More details were released Friday about the Tricentennial’s citywide Commemorative Week, May 1-6, amid African drumming by Tbow Gonzales, ballet dancers from the Quenedit Dance Theatre, and an array of “SA300” souvenirs and memorabilia at Centro de Artes.
Tricentennial Commission Executive Director Carlos Contreras took the occasion to remind everyone that even some of San Antonio’s most revered symbols have deeper histories that will be recognized during the weeklong celebration.
The Mission San Antonio de Valero relocated twice before settling at its current home, now known as the Alamo, Contreras said, pointing out that its first home was on San Pedro Creek.
“Think about all of the synergies” between the arrival of the first missionaries in 1718 and where we are today, he said.
“Part of the highlight of the week is the San Pedro Creek Phase I redevelopment initiative” on Legacy Day, May 5, he said, in which a new “culture park” will be dedicated near the location of the first settlement.
A tone of reverence is apparent in the language describing Commemorative Week, meant as a celebration of the City of San Antonio and Bexar County’s origins. A detailed list of events and activities can be found on the San Antonio 300 website here. Most activities are free and open to the public.
One feature of the Day of Reflection, May 1, is a special commemorative flame sculpture, to be set alight during a special ceremony in Main Plaza, and stay lighted throughout the week. The flame, an accompanying candlelight vigil, and “300 Prayers Community Art Project” will honor the arrival of Fransciscan missionaries to San Antonio on May 1, 1718.
The weeklong celebration aims to be inclusive, with each themed day honoring different groups, including libraries and students on History and Education Day, May 2; schools and folklife performers on Founder’s Day, May 3; artists on Arts for All Day, May 4; community innovators on Legacy Day, May 5; and the service members and veterans on Military Appreciation Day, May 6.
Commemoration, though, can help undergird thinking about the present and future, Nirenberg said. “As we reflect on our community’s complex history during this week, we will ask ourselves what kind of city we want to be the next 300 years.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff agreed, adding, “San Antonio is on the move.”
During the educational and inspiring events of the weeklong celebration, Wolff said, “we’re going have a great time, but we’re also going to learn a lot … about our history … about who we are … and where we’re going.”
Event highlights will include the “Historic Futures: A Taste of Folklife Festival” at the University of Texas at San Antonio on Founder’s Day, with an array of music by Conjunto Puro Corazon, the Bill Smallwood Band, and others, and performances by Bahia Capoeira Luanda, Fire on the Mountain Cloggers, Halau Hawaiian Hula and Lebanese Folk Dancers, among other groups.
Music performances at the Carver Community Cultural Center on Arts for All Day will include Tbow Gonzales with African music and sing-alongs, and a special Musical Bridges Around The World (MBAW) presentation featuring cellist Boris Andrianov and guitarist Dmitry Illarionov, both from Russia, during a time of tensions between the U.S. and their country.
“That’s what we do [at MBAW],” Suhail Arastu, the nonprofit’s director of development and marketing said. “We highlight regions that people have negative perceptions of, and bring in the performing arts to showcase the beauty of the arts and to challenge pre-existing notions,” he said, which fits the overall goals of Commemorative Week.