With rave-like lighting and the soul rumbling roar of marching bands, many see the Fiesta Flambeau Parade as the ultimate Fiesta event. As the glowing, pulsing river makes its way down the parade route, dedicated crowds lining the street are drawn into an anonymous party, fueled by the frenetic energy that has been building across the city for the past 10 days.

Tejano star and 2016 parade Grand Marshal Patsy Torres bolstered the atmosphere even further, singing and entertaining her way down the parade route. For the many parade loyals who have been staking their claim and inhabiting the sidewalks for 36 hours or more, this is the payoff they’ve been waiting for. A tradition for many, and a party for all.

The Battle of Flowers Parade celebrates the extravagance and ceremony of Fiesta, while the Fiesta Flambeau Parade is all about sound, light, and the exuberant atmosphere of San Antonio. By the light of glow necklaces and LED lights, it’s difficult to make out much in the crowd of faces or the bands passing by, but the enthusiasm is palpable.

This year’s parade was further energized by a relatively crisp evening after a long, humid month. People moved more freely, and whipped up the blurry frenzy of hand held lights another notch.

If you need any more evidence that 2016 is the year of Ricardo Romo – beyond the awards and accolades he has received in civic and academic circles – look no further than the two handed high-five delivered by the Texas Cavaliers and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade Association. Both organizations asked Romo to serve as Honorary Grand Marshal, a nod to the remarkable strides the UTSA president has made bringing his university to the center of San Antonio culture.

Linda Montgomery, who serves on the UTSA Alumni Association board, gives much credit to Romo’s decision to invest in football. By adding to the general culture of the city, Montgomery feels that Romo positioned UTSA in the public eye. Before football, Montgomery said, there were plenty of good things going on, but few people knew about them.

Michael Klein, current president of the UTSA Alumni Association, applauded Romo’s ability to engage the city, students, and alumni.

“The partnership between the alumni association and the university has strengthened under his leadership,” Stein said.

The alumni celebrated Romo’s special status at the parade with a party inside the Alamo grounds and reserved seating on Alamo Plaza. For a commuter school serving a large number of first generation college students like Klein, this kind of enduring culture is a testament to growing school pride.

“Dr. Romo did a wonderful job of taking us from a place of complacency to that premier status he talks about,” Montgomery said.

UTSA Alumni Association Board Member Linda Montgomery sits for a photo in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Scott Ball.
UTSA Alumni Association Board Member Linda Montgomery sits for a photo in Alamo Plaza. Photo by Scott Ball.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.