A colorful Spanish tradition came alive at the Pearl’s Olé festival on Saturday in the form of a parade featuring cabezudos y gigantes that wound its way through the former brewery to Latin music.

Cabezudos are giant, papier-mâché heads worn by people in corresponding costumes, and gigantes are 12-foot-tall iconic figures, also made of papier-mâché. The cabezudos tradition dates back hundreds of years in villages throughout Spain, said Spanish artists David Ventura and Neus Hosta, who traveled from their hometown of Navata, in Catalonia, for a two-week residency at the Southwest School of Art to teach public workshops on making cabezudos.

Cabezudos and gigantes are meant to represent iconic cultural figures. The Pearl parade’s cabezudos portrayed three figures emblematic of the region: a Franciscan friar, a Native American woman, and a cowboy based on a caricature of John Wayne.

The two gigantes took the form of two actual people: David Robinson, the 7-foot-1 San Antonio Spurs center and basketball Hall of Fame member, and Lydia Mendoza, the famed Tejano music pioneer of the 1930s.

The Robinson and Mendoza costumes, complete with giant papier-mâché basketball and guitar, were designed by Christine King, a retired art conservator and set designer for local theater. Women from the Fuerza Unida Sewing Collective helped make the costumes, and professional dancers from the Guadalupe Dance Company brought the figures to life during the parade.

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Janel Sterbentz

Janel Sterbentz is founder and director of the bike advocacy group Bike San Antonio. She has a master's of urban studies and six years of professional transportation planning experience and also founded...

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter 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...