Thousands are expected to fill Hemisfair Park on New Year’s Eve as San Antonio begins celebrating its Tricentennial with the Celebrate 300 kickoff party. The event’s organizers have a message for would-be partygoers: Leave your car behind.
Visitors to the $1.1 million event can plan on hearing performances by eight musical acts, participating in family-oriented activities, and seeing a fireworks show that will illuminate the Tower of the Americas. What they shouldn’t plan on is finding a place to park, said Carlos Contreras, interim CEO of the Tricentennial Commission, on Wednesday.
“We’re going to have a lot of folks coming downtown,” he said. “Use mass transit. Don’t try to come down and park. It’s best to use the services that are available to us.”
Those services will include special buses and designated pickup and dropoff points for rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber in addition to taxi stands.
VIA Metropolitan Transit is partnering with Tricentennial organizers to offer special park-and-ride services in conjunction with the New Year’s Eve party. Revelers can leave their cars at Crossroads Park & Ride at 151 Crossroads Blvd. near Wonderland of the Americas mall, at the Madla Park & Ride at 1584 Cantrell Dr. on the Southside, or at the AT&T Center at 1 AT&T Center Parkway in parking lot 7.
Service to the event begins at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, and the final returning buses will leave the park at 1 a.m. Fare for the special event ride is $2.50 each way with discounts available for children, seniors, students, and active-duty military members.
Rideshare companies have designated pickup and dropoff points in the area surrounding Hemisfair Park. One will be located at a parking lot in front of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, just east of the SAWS Heating and Cooling building on Commerce Street. Another will be on Villita Street between St. Mary’s and Navarro streets. The third will be along East Houston Street near the Emily Morgan Hotel; that is the only site where pickup and dropoff spots for rideshare vehicles and taxis will overlap, Contreras said.
Taxis also will queue along Commerce Street between South Alamo and Bowie streets. Other taxis will be available in and around the Alamo Plaza area.
Market and South Alamo streets by Hemisfair Park will be closed for the party, city officials said, and any taxi stands usually in use along Market Street will not be available.
In addition to transportation planning, Contreras said the organization is working closely with the San Antonio Police Department to provide focused safety and security.
“Great precautions have been taken to insure all of our residents’ safety at the event,” Contreras said. “That’s first and foremost.”
Strategic plans have implemented as a precaution after recent mass-casualty incidents such as the October shooting in Las Vegas and 2016 truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market. Visitors to the party will see fences lining the park’s perimeter, and security screenings will be conducted before anyone may enter the grounds, according to Contreras.
Contreras also said the police department will place heavy vehicles and other items as strategic buffers between traffic and pedestrians walking along closed city streets. Other measures have been taken to reduce the chances of an armed attack carried out from a high vantage point.
“Our police department has been working diligently with all the neighboring hotels that have a clear access to the view of the area, and they’re taking precautions to make sure that we’re guarding against those kinds of activities,” Contreras said.
The park grounds will reach maximum capacity at 25,000 people, so Contreras recommends that partygoers arrive early in order to assure themselves a spot. Partygoers interested in purchasing VIP tickets, which include food and access to a tented lounge, may purchase them here.