Visitors at Alamo Plaza stop at the cenotaph honoring fallen soldiers.
Visitors at Alamo Plaza stop at the cenotaph honoring fallen soldiers. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Battle of Flowers Parade has been passing through Alamo Plaza in San Antonio since 1891. The proposed plan for closing the plaza to all but pedestrian traffic has raised the ire and concern of many San Antonio residents.

While some want to be able to drive through the plaza on Alamo Street and see the Alamo church as they go by, others want the parade to continue along its traditional route, exempt from the proposed closure this one day of the year.

Yet another segment of the population wants the plaza to remain open to vehicular traffic year-round, as any closure figures to add minutes to evening commutes home. Those people are willing to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto as long as it does not inconvenience them personally.

Alamo Plaza was swallowed up by commercialism and civic growth as early as the 1870, little more than 30 years after the famous battle. It is, therefore, understandable that the average San Antonio resident or visiting tourist might be confused by – or at least ignorant to – the fact that Alamo Plaza comprises the greater part of what was once the Alamo mission compound.

To most, the iconic Alamo church facade is the Alamo. As they walk through Alamo Plaza to get to the church, they may stop to have a snow cone, witness a rodeo, a carnival, or a bicycle race – few realizing that they do not need to enter the chapel doors to be inside the Alamo.

Closing off Alamo Plaza to vehicular traffic with better signage to show what was once part of the Alamo fort and Franciscan mission compound would help get many past this false conception.

As for lovers of the Battle of Flowers Parade, it will still go on, only rerouted away from Alamo Plaza.

As proposed, instead of continuing onto Alamo Plaza, the newly adopted route would turn east from North Alamo Street onto Houston Street, south onto Bowie Street, then west onto Crockett Street. The parade floats would have their floral tributes delivered by young men in blue uniforms to the grassy campo santo plot in front of the Alamo church.

The idea behind the original Battle Of Flowers parade was to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Rerouting the parade away from the Alamo battlefield would help accomplish just that. A frivolous parade should not be taking place on grounds where nearly 200 years ago the blood of heroes ran deep. Many who protest this rerouting bemoan the fact they would lose the opportunity to have the Alamo church facade in the background of their parade photos. And that’s understandable.

But it should not be all about us or our inconvenience. The parade is intended to show proper respect to the Alamo heroes, battlefield, Mission San Antonio de Valero, plus the more than 1,000 Native American Indian converts whose remains are interred beneath Alamo Plaza. 

The Alamo does not belong exclusively to the residents of San Antonio, the people of Texas, or even Americans all over the world. Rather, it belongs to all freedom-loving people as evidenced by the yearly flood of international tourists to San Antonio. These visitors from across the globe seem to understand more than some locals that the Alamo must be safeguarded and honored as something very special.

So “Remember the Alamo,” but remember what you are remembering – it’s more than the little church you see on old postcards.

Ned Huthmacher

Ned Huthmacher is the moderator and a contributor to the John Wayne "The Alamo" forum. He has written for the San Antonio Express-News, published a book on the Alamo, and appeared in several Alamo-related...