The Texas Cavaliers River Parade is a 76-year-old Fiesta tradition, but for the first time in the event’s history, a handful of parade participants had a shiny and eco-friendly new ride to wave to the crowd from.

An estimated 250,000 spectators gathered in front of TVs, in restaurants and bars along the river, on bridges and streets, at the Arneson River Theatre, and anywhere they could find standing room to watch one of the City’s new river barges, occupied by Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Council members, and some of their family members, float by.

City of San Antonio Staff along with their families greet attendees during the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.
Mayor Ivy Taylor (front), City Council members, and their families greet attendees during the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

A myriad of local organizations, politicians, business people, and social groups piled into decorated barges that featured both live and recorded music, storybook characters, Fiesta royalty, armed services members, and in the case of the Animal Defense League’s float, puppies.

This year’s theme, “Kaleidoscope,” upped the ante in terms of the glitz, confetti, colors, and lights used on around 50 barges that made their way down one of San Antonio’s most iconic tourist attractions.

“Our Grand Marshall, Barton Simpson, chose the theme in order to represent the many colors of Fiesta and the many cultures that make up San Antonio,” said Melody Campbell-Goeken, publicist for the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. “We are particularly proud this year, because the Cavaliers exceeded their fundraising goal. More than $1 million will go to 60 area charities.”

Since 1989, the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation has committed to raising funds to support children’s charities through monetary donations and outreach programs across San Antonio. Working directly with the more than 600-member Cavaliers and King Antonio, the foundation has raised more than $6 million since its inception, according to Campbell-Goeken.

Beneficiaries of this year’s fundraising efforts include, Girls Scouts of San AntonioKIPP AcademyMake A Wish FoundationTransplants for ChildrenCity Kids Adventures, Magik Children’s Theatre, The Children’s ShelterBallet Conservatory of South Texas, and Our Lady of the Lake University’s Harry Jersig Center. This year’s charitable honoree, the Winston School,  received a $283,000 grant, the largest single grant in Cavaliers history.

Founded in 1926, the Texas Cavaliers’ mission is to honor the Alamo heroes who died in the fight for independence. Developed initially as a social group, the Cavaliers committed to improving the lives of San Antonio area children through numerous programs and events throughout the year, the River Parade arguably being the most popular and the most fun.

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Hanna Oberhofer

Before moving to San Antonio in 2004, Hanna was a competitive rhythmic gymnast in her native Austria. She earned degrees from St. Mary’s University and the Texas State Graduate College before joining...

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Scott Ball

Scott Ball is San Antonio Report's photo editor and grew up in San Antonio.