Summer heat and nearly 100-degree temperatures didn’t pause festivities at the city’s H-E-B-sponsored Fourth of July celebration at Woodlawn Lake Park. Groups of friends and families arrived bright and early to set up their designated area with tents, lawn chairs and umbrellas, awaiting the fireworks that will cap off the day’s festivities after dark.

The smell of barbecue filled the air as people sitting in lawn chairs laughed and enjoyed music, either on speakers under their tents, or near the main stage, where the U.S. Air Force Band of the West and DJ Plata will be performing until the end of the event at 9:30 p.m.

At the free event, hosted by the San Antonio Parks Foundation, the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and presented by H-E-B, a water aerobics class and Zumba class kept people active, while local food trucks and vendors served snow cones, aguas frescas, tacos, burgers and more.

Dannetta Torres was dressed in red, white and blue and had glitter on her arms and legs, showing off her patriotism. Torres, who was with her family, was flipping carne asada on a large, round grill. Her friend, who stood across from the grill, seasoned meat.

In Torres’ family, the annual gathering is a symbol of patriotism and an opportunity to say “thank you” to those who serve in the U.S. military. Her family members have served in the Navy, Marine and Air Force. 

“My dad was a Marine first, then Air Force and just grew up in the military service, so just celebrating their freedom and hard work for us to have it,” Torres said. 

For Jeremy and Aicha Glenn and their four children, their family’s first Fourth of July celebration in San Antonio meant navigating larger crowds compared to the small town they recently moved from. As they walked the trails along the lake and through scattered tents, they sported matching patriotic outfits. Another military family, they have a long history of service that dates to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Jeremy Glenn said. 

“I’ve been in service for 15 years. … The Fourth of July has always been important to me. It’s a way of celebrating what our founding fathers did for us,” he said. “I have friends who died in Afghanistan and I think about them anytime we have a patriotic holiday like this, and what they gave for freedom.”

People stopped Jeremy and Aicha Glenn for photos almost everywhere they walked. Happily, the family of six smiled for photos. Aicha Glenn, a West African immigrant, has been a citizen of the U.S. for years now and reflected on her time here.

“It is special,” said Aicha Glenn of living in the country. “It’s a dream and it is happiness. The United States is my adoptive mother so I love it. All under one flag, that’s what it’s all about. A big rainbow.”

She added: “We have a very strong patriotic spirit. Your country, it should be your heart. We love the country.”

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.