San Antonians didn’t let Saturday’s rain stop them from attending the inaugural Mission Reach Float Fest despite the cancellation of the one-mile paddle. Because of safety concerns, The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) turned the float fest into a land-locked event and judged the decorated kanoes, cayaks, and paddle boards at Acequia Park on the Mission Reach.
The free event turned out about 150 attendees and more than a dozen participants who created themed floats to be judged by elected officials and Fiesta royalty. The judges included Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Chico Rodriguez, Councilmember Rebecca Viagran (D3), San Antonio River Authority District 1 Board Member Jerry Gonzales, San Antonio River Foundation’s Executive Director Estela Avery, and Miss San Antonio 2015 Emma F. Rudkin. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff served as grand marshal.
Esferas Perdidas, representing the Facebook Group of the same name, won the most creative canoe/kayak with its “Day of the Dead” float, while Ruben Gonzales won most creative stand-up paddleboard with “Shark Attack.” Mike Dey, David Zambrano, and Rebecca Ohnemus used recycled materials to create “Garbage Busters,” which won the “Go Green Machine” category. Maggie Valdez won the most humorous category with her float, “Get Outdoors,” and Michael Gonzales, along with his family, won the overall best float with “Sharknado.” The grand marshal’s choice went to Glen Burt, Emily Kinder, and Robert Wurzbach with their float, “Fish Tale.”
The Mission Reach recreation project, which hosted its grand opening in 2013, restored eight miles of the San Antonio River – a $271.4 million endeavor.
The Mission Reach Float Fest, which anticipates to become a future signature Fiesta event, was designed to show off the two-year old river development. Mission Reach is one of the three areas of the San Antonio River that allows permit-free paddling, canoeing, and kayaking.
In addition to the contest, attendees also enjoyed outdoor recreation mini clinics by REI San Antonio, live music by Los Nahuatlatos, and event medals were given out on a first come, first serve basis.
*Featured/top image: “Day of the Dead” float at the inaugural Mission Reach Float Fest on Saturday. Courtesy photo.