Mike Casey holds the "disclaimer" banner that reflects the unusual character of the King William Fair parade. Credit: Courtesy / Belinda Molina

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The King William area was originally farmland, irrigated by acequias flowing from the San Antonio River, owned by the 1718 Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo. By the late 19th century, the district was the most graceful residential area in the city. In 1968, it was zoned as Texas’ first historic district. The King William Fair and Parade started in 1968 and was about three blocks long. This year, the fair will celebrate its 50th anniversary and feature 200 arts and crafts vendors, 50 food vendors, and 45 entertainment acts. The Parade is 1.5 miles long with 66 entries and more than 1,500 participants.

The King William Fair is the only Fiesta event that is both a parade and a fair. Another “only,” the Alamo City Roller Girls serve as the “parade wranglers,” and will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. They organize the lineup, and skate alongside the parade for spacing, pacing, and most importantly, trouble shooting. The Roller Girls have been and are a important in-kind sponsor.

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend this lively festival on April 29. The King William Fair is the primary fundraising event for the King William Association, a nonprofit organization which works to preserve and protect the oldest historic district in Texas and promote the unique cultural heritage of San Antonio. But what really sets this event apart is the sparkling beauty of its historic setting near the heart of downtown San Antonio where the King William neighborhood entices fair-goers to relax and unwind along shady, tree-lined streets adorned with stately Victorian homes, cozy cottages, and gracious gardens.

This year’s parade theme is “Kids in the Hood.” Kids from “the hood’s” public schools will serve as this year’s Grand Marshals. “Early Settlers” – neighbors who grew up in the “hood” and still live here – will serve as honor guards for the kids.

The parade prides itself on diversity. It is renowned for its eclectic participants. Entries include neighboring schools (public, private, and religious), artsy/interesting entries, as well as LGBT entries and drag queens. It is the only San Antonio parade with a disclaimer banner. For this year’s lineup, click here. 

Half Price Books is another valued in-kind sponsor. For the past 10 years, Half Price has donated thousands of children’s books to the parade. The books are sorted by volunteers, and handed to children along the parade route. In the past decade, the King William Parade has handed out more than 25,000 children’s books thanks to the generosity of Half Price Books.

The Parade starts at 9 a.m. at the corner of Guenther Street and Eagleland Drive, proceeds through the Fair Zone, and exits to Adams Street at 9:45 a.m. Free parade viewing is available along Guenther, Alamo, and Adams streets. If you want to snooze a bit on the last Saturday of Fiesta, you can head over to Adams around 9:45 a.m. and see the whole parade there!

Look for Part 2 of the King William Fair/Parade story at Rivard Report later in April.

Sue Duffy

Sue Duffy is the King William Fair and Parade's chief parade wrangler.