Bats fly from the Camden Street Bridge during previous Bat Loco program. Photo courtest San Antonio River Authority.
Bats fly from the Camden Street Bridge during a previous Bat Loco program. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio River Authority

On Tuesday, the San Antonio River Authority (SARA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and Bat Conservation International (BCI) will host the Fifth Annual Bat Loco Bash to watch 60,000 bats take to the skies and to educate the community about wildlife conservation.

Between 1,500 and 3,000 bat enthusiasts are expected to gather near the Camden Street Bridge on the Museum Reach from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to watch the cloud of Mexican free-tail bats embark to feast on the city’s plentiful bugs and insects. The colony is expected to emerge during sunset between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The free, family-friendly event will feature a bat parade, educational booths, food trucks, children’s activities, and live music on the Museum Reach segment of the River Walk near the cross of Camden and Newell streets. The intersection will be closed to traffic from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. to allow attendees to set up chairs and get comfortable as they listen to talks and await the winged spectacle.

Prior to takeoff, SARA staff members will lead a talk about the seasonal bat colony and about the San Antonio River and Museum Reach area. TPWD and BCI wildlife experts will discuss the important role of bats in the South Texas ecosystem and debunk urban legends about the creatures to make the public more comfortable with their presence around the city. Contrary to popular belief, for instance, bats do not carry rabies more often than other mammals.

The organizations hope to foster greater awareness for the bat colony and their harmless activity. From October to March, they roost in Mexico, returning north to Texas for the Spring and Summer months, making their homes in cave-like structures and ridding the city of unwanted insects by night. Far from anything to fear, bats are an aspect of Texas wildlife to be welcomed and appreciated.

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The bash will feature music by DJ Michelle McKnight and will host several bat-themed mascots, like Echo the Bat and Batman of San Antonio along with Bat Girl, Robin, and a 1966 licensed Batmobile.

Intended for bat lovers of all ages, the event is part of San Antonio’s KidCation Week 2017, a week of events throughout the city geared towards children, which runs August 5-13.

Free parking will be available under U.S. Highway 281 near Newell Street and Avenue A and under Interstate 35 on Camden Street.

Even if the bats don’t show during the Loco Bash itself, as in some years past, they can be seen on most nights this time of year, emerging sometime around dusk depending on seasonal conditions. And if a mere 60,000 doesn’t satiate your bat viewing desires, around 20 million, the largest bat maternity colony on earth, can be seen at Bracken Cave, located north of San Antonio in Comal County.

Tom Bugg is a San Antonio native and student of English at Colorado College.