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My family’s home in Kingsborough Ridge was the unofficial headquarters for family gatherings when I was growing up – the party house. My parents never passed up the chance for a barbecue and my big extended family never turned them down. Those weekends of running around with cousins and splashing in the pool, the chatter and laughter of the adults in the background, and the smell of brisket and sausage floating through the air are some of my fondest childhood memories.

Returning to this home as an adult with my own family brings back all those warm memories and makes me eager to create new ones for my own children to treasure. 

Much about the home and neighborhood remains unchanged. My parents, Janie and Joe Escalante, still live here and love entertaining in non-pandemic times. Many of the neighbors I’ve known my whole life are still here. One is a 101-year-old Army veteran we check in with daily. His whole family lives on this block, something not uncommon on San Antonio’s South Side.

Their pet chicken looks on as Jesse and Luisa Garcia play in the backyard with their three children, Mia, 10; Gianna, 6; and Jesse, 2. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

Now my children Mia, Giana, and Jesse enjoy helping their grandfather with his backyard garden, taking rides on the lawnmower, and covering the driveway in colorful chalk art. We’re lucky to have plenty of outdoor space and a pool that we’ve definitely taken advantage of this past year. Nearby we also have the Mission Trails and Mission Espada, where you’ll often find us. My husband (and middle school sweetheart) Jesse is an avid runner with Bexar Run Crew, and we all enjoy staying active together on the trails, where the kids especially love to ride their bikes.

Mitchell Lake is another often overlooked gem that’s a short drive away. I’m a Girl Scout leader and love taking the girls out there to bird-watch and participate in educational programs.

While some things haven’t changed in Kingsborough Ridge, there are quite a few notable changes in the area, perhaps the biggest one being the Texas A&M-San Antonio campus. I’m a TAMU-SA graduate and completed my degree when the program was still hosted at Palo Alto College. Now there’s a big, beautiful campus and a wider range of programs for students. Though I wasn’t able to enjoy campus as an undergrad, I now have a brick with my name on it there and I’m happy that the South Side community has greater access to higher education.

Mia, 10, and Gianna, 6, run toward the Tree of Life sculpture behind Mission Espada. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

It’s also wonderful to see so many thriving businesses in the area. When I was growing up, my father owned a transmission shop on the South Side that he also ran out of this house and my mother had a flower shop. So I grew up around that entrepreneurial spirit, and seeing my parents contribute to the community inspired me to want to contribute in my own way.

My husband Jesse and I are both San Antonio natives and big advocates for our city. We love our hometown and want everyone to see what it has to offer. Whether it’s through posting on my blog San Antonio Socialista, contributing to Live from the Southside, or by participating in projects like the Tastemade series Beyond the Block and the Becoming You documentary series on Apple TV, I try to promote San Antonio in any way I can.

The South Side has many longstanding businesses that have become part of the community. We love Bobbie’s Cafe for breakfast and our go-to for tacos is Judy’s. Luna’s BBQ was a local catering business for many years and an institution on the South Side. My family has been going to Luna’s for big events for as long as I can remember. When the pandemic hit and businesses were struggling to stay afloat, they opened up a food truck that has helped them maintain their business and even look at moving into a brick and mortar space. It’s been so nice to see the community supporting them because we’ve followed Luna’s on their journey for about 20 years now and are happy to see them not only making it through this tough time but also growing.

Bobbie’s Cafe, established 49 years ago, is one of the family-owned eateries the Garcia family loves to frequent. The cafe is currently run by the original founder’s grandson, Greg Ferris and his wife, Ana. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

There are also new businesses popping up that the South Side is embracing. Cultura coffee shop and Republic Bakery are two that my husband and I especially enjoy. It’s exciting to see these fresh ideas in our community and these new businesses coexisting with businesses that have been around for decades. It’s representative of a community that values its history and also encourages entrepreneurship. 

This respect for history with an eye toward a better future is something that my husband and I strive for. And it’s something that we want to carry out in our own home. We’re eager for the pandemic to end so that we can carry on the party house torch from my parents. When it’s safe to get together again, we look forward to hosting many joyful gatherings of family and friends.

Luisa Escalante Garcia

Luisa Escalante Garcia is a proud San Antonio native who strives to uplift her community and show the beauty of her hometown.

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