King Antonio XCVII Roger C. Hill III enters on a boat.
King Antonio XCVII Roger C. Hill III leads the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Texas Cavaliers celebrated their 75th river parade on Monday evening. Thousands of spectators lined the riverbanks and watched lighted floats and waving men dressed in the Cavaliers’ light blue military-style jackets and smart red slacks.

The parade theme this year was “It’s Showtime in San Antonio,” with Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame rodeo clown Leon Coffee serving as honorary grand marshal. More than 50 floats glided on the river, twinkling with lights and colorful decorations, many of them occupied by recipients of the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation’s financial support.

The foundation selected 67 charities to support in 2019, including Any Baby Can, Autism Community Network, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, and SJRC Texas, formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.

The foundation chose Morgan’s Wonderland to be the 2019 charitable honoree, and $814,000 of the total $1.5 million raised will go toward future improvements in and aroundthe inclusive amusement park.

Publicist Melody Campbell-Goeken said the Texas Cavaliers have sold 19,000 tickets, but more people watched from restaurants and buildings overlooking the river as well as on live TV. All proceeds from the parade ticket sales go to the charitable foundation, which started in 1989 and has since raised more than $8 million through the river parade and King Antonio, and helping children across Texas remains the mission of the foundation.

It’s the Cavalier’s 75th parade, but the parade size isn’t any bigger than usual, Campbell-Goeken said.

“But we are giving away so much more money this year,” she said. “This is the largest gift in Cavaliers history and we’ve been fortunate that we can say that for the last several years, that this is the biggest gift that we’ve given.”

The Cavaliers raised $1.1 million last year, Campbell-Goeken said.

The Texas Cavaliers boasts roughly 600 members, though not all of them pile onto a float during the parade, Campbell-Goeken said. The organization works to pull together a colorful river parade each year to give San Antonians a show.

“I sleep after Fiesta,” she joked. “There is no time for tired. Too many people depend on this parade for money and entertainment – that keeps everyone going and excited and in a happy mood.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.

Bonnie Arbittier worked as a photojournalist for the San Antonio Report.