Thousands took to San Antonio’s downtown streets Friday to catch the 126th annual Battle of Flowers Parade. Clad in Fiesta medals, bright colors, and flower crowns, attendees listened to mariachi music, saw elaborate floats, watched cultural performances, and heard the drum and trumpet sounds from several local marching bands.

Fr. David Garcia, the pastoral administrator of Mission Concepción and director of the Old Spanish Missions, served as the grand marshal for this year’s parade. The theme of the parade was “Blazing Trails,” in honor of the many events, individuals, and ideas that have contributed to the greatness of the city, state, and nation.

Due to temperatures in the 90s, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District issued a level III heat advisory for Friday and Saturday.

The Battle of Flowers parade began in 1891 and is the second largest day parade in the U.S. It is organized and run by women, who dress in bright yellow and direct operations with the help of the Texas Army National Guard. Participants Friday placed a floral tribute on the lawn as they passed in front of the Alamo, to keep with the parade tradition of honoring the heroes who fought valiantly for Texas independence in the late 19th century. The parade holds the distinction of being the first celebration to be held in Alamo Plaza and is considered the founding event of Fiesta.

Miss Fiesta San Antonio holds up her hands in a "rock on" gesture at the Battle of the Flowers Parade.
Miss Fiesta San Antonio holds up her hands in a “rock on” gesture at the Battle of Flowers Parade. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Each year, The Battle of Flowers Association builds nine floats for the public high school section of the parade and schools are invited to participate on a rotating basis with their student leaders, band, pep squad, and cheerleaders.

Queens and duchesses from the Fiesta Royal Court received calls from the crowd to reveal their shoes under their sparkly dresses while families wandered the parade route in search of tacos, corn, gorditas, raspas, turkey legs, and other Fiesta food favorites. Many set up chairs – and even couches – all along the parade route on Broadway Street hours and even days in advance to nab an optimal seat for the parade.

Crowds lean out of windows to view the Battle of Flowers Parade.
Crowds lean out of windows to view the Battle of Flowers Parade. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Rey Feo LXIX Fred Reyes, along with a posse of stormtroopers dancing atop his float; Texas Cavaliers King Antonio, Dr. Michael Casillas; and Mayor Ivy Taylor also made an appearance and waved to the crowd gathered in the hot sun. Manuel Medina, who is running alongside Ron Nirenberg (D8) and 11 other candidates to unseat Taylor in the race for mayor, showed up at the parade as well, albeit unofficially.

“I love watching the floats and the clowns,” said Samiya Hemphill, 4.

D’zana Griffin, 9, told the Rivard Report she also enjoys watching the floats, but spending time with family was at the top of her list.

Song and dance performers enthralled thousands of children, charros whirled their lassos as they rode atop their noble horses, horse drawn carriages and antique cars drove along the route, and large helium balloons floated through the downtown corridor as local civic and military groups and participants in costumes walked by.

“My favorite part of the parade is seeing the people come together and the grandkids having much much fun,” said Angela Green, a long-time San Antonian.

The Battle of Flowers Parade supports the educational, artistic, social, and philanthropic achievements of their community’s youth by affording nonprofit organizations the opportunity to raise funds by selling more than 45,000 parade seats along the parade route every year. View more photos from the parade by clicking through the gallery below.

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Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...

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Bonnie Arbittier

Bonnie Arbittier worked as a photojournalist for the San Antonio Report.