San Antonio turns into one big party during the 11-day Fiesta celebration in April. But this year, the City is making a concerted effort with the Fiesta San Antonio Commission and Keep San Antonio Beautiful to encourage festival goers to not only pick up after themselves, but make more environmentally friendly choices in general.
Almost every year, there’s a call for a cleaner Fiesta. This year, hopefully, will represent a more united front, aligning organizations and resources with the commission’s Fiesta Verde program.
About 3.5 million people will participate in Fiesta events April 16-26, and it’s no secret that many of those people will be drinking alcohol during most of them – and with drunk people comes poor decisions, whether it be drunk driving, littering, unhealthy eating, etc.
To help combat these tendencies, the collaborative came up with a set of initiatives to get people to be green, fit, and friendly.
Fiesta Commission President Fernando Reyes said he is asking participating organizations to comply with city ordinances to make San Antonio a more environmentally friendly city.
“We are asking (participating businesses and organizations) to recycle, to put out trash cans so that people have the option to put trash in a bin and not on the floor,” he said. “We know it is important to the city, it’s important to the citizens of San Antonio, and it’s important to Fiesta.”
This year, Fiesta organizers are encouraging attendees to take alternative means of transportation during the festival. VIA Metropolitan Transit’s new “E” route connects the major locations in downtown San Antonio, such as La Villita, the Convention Center, and Rivercenter Mall.
Mayor Ivy Taylor said walking, bicycling, or securing a designated driver are other good alternatives to drinking and driving.
San Antonio B-cycle, a local bike sharing system, has 55 stations in downtown San Antonio, and members are able to pick up and drop off a bike at any station. Keep an eye out for a rack of grey bikes, which will likely stand out in the sea of bright Fiesta colors.
“My hope is to provide more options for people to experience the rich places that we have (in San Antonio),” said Councilmember Roberto Treviño (D1).
What’s a party without food? Fiesta is notorious for its food stands, and this year, healthier options will be available.
“I want to encourage all of the Fiesta revelers to enjoy some of the healthy options that will also be available at the food booths during the festivities. Your body will thank you afterwards,” Mayor Taylor said.
Reyes said the purpose of these initiatives is to give people more choices, whether it’s how they’re getting around, where they’re disposing of trash, or what they are putting into their body.
“We want people to have choices,” he said. “You can enjoy Fiesta and still be fit.”
Reyes added that Fiesta is more than just a big party.
“A lot of people think it’s just another Mardi Gras, but our purpose is a little bit different because we are made up of nonprofit organizations, and during these ten days is when they raise the majority of the money for their cause,” he said.
The commission supports more than 100 local nonprofit groups, civic clubs, and others through parade street chair sales.
“Fiesta is a party with a purpose,” Reyes said.
Featured/top image: Councilmember Roberto Treviño (D1) shouts “¡Viva Fiesta! “after giving a speech about keeping Fiesta green, fit, and friendly. Photo by Joan Vinson.