Since the coronavirus pandemic descended upon San Antonio in March, many city gathering spaces normally teeming with life have gone nearly silent, and a spring festival season that would have drawn droves downtown now lies dormant, hopeful for a fall re-flowering.

Normally on the last Friday of Fiesta, Amanda Tutor would have donned festive gear to make her way from her apartment near Hemisfair to a friend’s house, watching the Battle of Flowers parade as she went. But during the pandemic, nothing is normal.

With the parade rescheduled for Nov. 13, Tutor and friends planned to gather on the Zoom videoconferencing platform for a private Battle of Flowers party. She has decorated her apartment near Hemisfair for the occasion.

“Let me tell you, I decorated my room as much as I could with the small amount of Fiesta things that I have,” Tutor said, including papel picado on the balcony, flower crowns adorning her mirror, piñatas, and a small altar. “I had to bring some Fiesta into my one-bedroom apartment.”

Below are photos of San Antonio locations as they’re typically experienced this time of year and how they look today. Note: Move the slider on the images below to see the difference.

Yanaguana Garden splash pad

Slowly and cautiously, San Antonio will begin to reopen. For now, caution tape rings the closed Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair. Eventually the tape will come down and the popular splash pad, climbing net, and the blue bejeweled panther by artist Oscar Alvarado will reverberate with the yelps and laughter of playing children.

Arneson River Theater

On March 13, City officials decided to help protect would-be revelers at events like the River Parade, where crowds pack the Arneson to watch the floats motor past. Seeing the spike in cases that resulted from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the moves proved prescient.

Pleasant spring weather normally would invite thousands of tourists and city dwellers alike to stroll the River Walk from the Museum Reach to the Mission Reach. Not only did many River Walk restaurants shut down when dining rooms were closed by another Mayoral order, but tourists have stayed away due to canceled conventions and travel restrictions.

The Pearl

The Pearl is now a comparative ghost town compared to its always-crowded earlier days. The green park space is roped off, with a few restaurant tents keeping a flow of takeout and curbside pickup food going.

Pearl residents John, Laura, and Jade Walsh spent Easter Sunday morning playing catch outside the Pearl Stable, a perfect game for proper social distancing. This is what they’d normally be doing, they said, all dedicated exercise enthusiasts. They planned to connect with other family members in Boston for holiday dinner via Zoom, enjoying a vegetable pot pie with ingredients procured from a Whole Foods visit.

Bicyclists, joggers, and dog walkers still can be seen along the city’s park trails from Brackenridge to Pearsall Park, but they move alone or in pairs, keeping a distance from others and wearing masks. People greet each other with a wave or a nod, visibly grateful for human contact, however distanced and sporadic.

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Pleasant spring weather normally would invite thousands of tourists and city dwellers alike to stroll the River Walk from the Museum Reach to the Mission Reach. Not only did many River Walk restaurants shut down when dining rooms were closed by another Mayoral order, but tourists have stayed away due to canceled conventions and travel restrictions.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank

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 an indie rock...