Muskets spark and smoke as they fire blanks behind the Alamo during a firing demonstration.
Muskets spark and smoke as they fire blanks behind the Alamo during a firing demonstration. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

As people across San Antonio celebrated the United States’ present this Fourth of July, one of the city’s most iconic locales, Alamo Plaza, came alive with an event honoring the nation’s past.

Independence Day at the Alamo, a public event that drew several hundred people throughout the day, included living history demonstrations, music, readings, photo opportunities with reenactors, free paletas, and more.

The most popular attraction was the firing demonstration which took place three times over the course of the event. Men and women dressed in period clothing aimed nearly five-foot-long muskets into the air, and with the call to fire, loud cracks and smoke would fill the air.

Earlier in the day, a close-knit community in North San Antonio hosted its 20th annual Fourth of July event, the largest residential parade in San Antonio. 

Around 150 residents of the Oak Park-Northwood neighborhood, located just north of Alamo Heights and east of the Quarry, dressed in red, white, and blue and proceeded through the area on festive wagons and bikes, many of them with pets in tow. A bagpiper accompanied the parade with patriotic tunes. 

A man dressed in 18th-century period clothing and holding a musket read the Declaration of Independence while children enjoyed bounce houses, face-painting, and snow cones nearby. 

Councilman Clayton Perry, whose District 10 is home to the neighborhood made up of 4,300 homes and businesses, recited the pledge of allegiance.

Citywide celebrations began on the holiday’s eve Tuesday when several hundred visitors strolled the newly-opened San Pedro Creek Culture Park in downtown San Antonio. Along its four-mile stretch, visitors enjoyed food from various vendors, musical entertainment by a quartet of string musicians, a light show, and other Independence Day-inspired activities.

Over the last 18 months, crews have transformed the long-neglected downtown waterway into a cultural park flush with public art installations such as tile murals, aquatic plants and trees, signage explaining the area’s history, and a waterfall wall at the creek’s inlet. The first phase of the project, primarily funded by $132.7 million from Bexar County and managed by the San Antonio River Authority, opened to the public in May.

“One of the goals of this project is to bring the community back to the creek,” said Carrie Brown, public art curator for the San Antonio River Authority. “So in addition to the flood control improvements, the water quality improvements, we also … wanted to set up a series of events to get the community engaged with the park.”

The event culminated with a light show at the Rain from the Heavens installation at the Plaza de Fundación area of the park.

“[On] the eve of Fourth of July, we wanted to try something a little more special,” Brown said. “We wanted people to kick off the holiday here at the creek, so we took advantage of the metal screen that goes around the tunnel inlet and used it as a production wall.”

Before moving to San Antonio in 2004, Hanna was a competitive rhythmic gymnast in her native Austria. She earned degrees from St. Mary’s University and the Texas State Graduate College before joining...