San Antonio goes Pop …

Created Thursday, 29 March 2007 09:17

Factory Work is an exploration into the collaborations between Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jamie Wyeth during the late 70s and early 80s.  Warhol was already known as a master/genius/celebrity, and Basquiat and Wyeth were also established artists when Warhol invited them to his Factory and they subsequently began working together. The partnerships and collaborative efforts changed all three and affected each of their respective careers.

Basquiat, the son of Puerto Rican and Haitian parents, was known as the person who brought street art and graffiti to the galleries.  His work is known for its confrontational nature and its nervous, fierce energy.  It has been said that Basquiat was more interested in learning about how to become a celebrity from Warhol, than about art.

Wyeth, was born into the art world, as the son of Andrew Wyeth, the realist painter, and grandson of N.C. Wyeth, the illustrator.  Although coming from different schools of thought regarding art, Warhol and Wyeth proved to be good friends, and positively affected each other’s work.  They frequently did portraits of each other, and often painted the same object, each in his own style, and discussed the results.

Factory Work examines these relationships through 75 paintings, drawings, photographs, and odds and ends collected from this time period—the time period when artists became superstars and celebrities.  The exhibition is ending April, 8, so those interested should hurry down.

The McNay is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and on Thursdays from 10:00 AM until 9:00PM.  Saturday 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM, and Sundays from Noon until 5:00 PM.  Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested for adults.

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Retama Ups Stakes Monies for Quarter Horse Meeting

Created Monday, 23 April 2007 14:01

Retama Ups States Monies for Quarter Horse Meeting

Purses for eight quarter horse stakes scheduled during the 21-evening Retama Park meeting that begins May 4 have been increased by a total of $30,000.

The first to benefit from the Cross Species Fund, distributed by the Texas Quarter Horse Association, is the Ben E. Keith Stakes that was boosted $2,500 to $17,500 on opening night.

\”No quarter horse stakes will be less than $17,500,\” said James Leatherman, Retama\’s racing secretary. A dozen stakes will be worth more than $350,000, including three on the June 15-17 closing weekend.

Promotional events such as 50-Cent Nights, the brainstorm of publicity-marketing director Doug Vair launched in 1997, keep patrons coming back to the track in Selma, a short gallop from the northeast San Antonio city limits.

There will be four such Friday nights: May 11 and 25, June 1 and 15. Admission is free. Soda and programs are 50 cents while hotdogs and draft beer cost $1. Free activities for kids include pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting and clowns.

Retama officials have their fingers crossed that on-track business will improve over last year when total money bet was down 1 percent for 24-days compared to ’05. On-track simulcast wagering, which comprises 80 percent of the track’s annual business, was up 5 percent.

However, wagering at off-site locations in Texas and out of state plummeted 37 percent last year compared to ’05.

“This shows what we are up against,” Retama CEO Bryan Brown said. “All surrounding states — Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico — have alternative gaming which enhances purse money. Those states offer much higher purses, some almost 300 per cent greater than Retama Park.”

Those neighbors have casino-type gambling, including video slots, that attracts many fans and racing interests from their respective regions, including Texas. That increases business, propelling higher purses for stakes as well as lesser races.

Meanwhile, the Texas Legislature has failed to even approve a referendum that would allow voters to decide whether video slots should be installed at Retama, Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park.

So Retama, hoping to increase its thoroughbred business, wanted to move its traditional fall meeting to winter dates in ’08, skipping this year. And track brass thought such a deal was a sure thing.

“Back in the fall of 2006, all of the different groups, horsemen, breeders, racetracks and the Texas Racing Commission, worked toward moving Retama Park to those dates,” Vair said. “We all believed we had an agreement.”

Those dates would have covered January through March. That would have meant Sam Houston shifting some dates to the fall. “Sam Houston received and accepted purse money ($500,000) for 12 fall dates in ’07 that would have been staged at Retama as part of the agreement.”

Then Sam Houston in a letter from president-general manager Robert L. Bork four days before the Racing Commission meeting on March 20 made its intentions clear:
“Our best months are December, February and March. Replacing these months with fall dates would create a financial loss, a decrease in purses and ultimately the failure of a successful racing program.”

The bottom line: “Sam Houston claimed there was nothing in writing and protested,” Vair said.

After the lengthy session, the Racing Commission turned down Retama’s request, 5-3.

Now track executives will resubmit fall thoroughbred dates, Vair said, that will be slashed from last year’s 51 days.

Brown will request a 32-day meeting from Sept. 7 through Nov. 17 at the commission’s May 14 meeting.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing from the opening season in  ’95 when the track cancelled the last two weeks of the quarter horse meeting because operating funds evaporated. “Wagering was way less than projections,” general manager Bob Pollock explained.

Retama filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on March 20, 1996. On Feb. 13, 1997, a judge approved the track’s reorganization and funding plan, and six weeks later it emerged from bankruptcy.

The track has had ups and downs, but manages to survive. There’s no reason to think otherwise.

Retama Park is located in Selma off Interstate 35. General admission is $2.50 and $1.50 for senior citizens 62 and older, $1 more for the clubhouse; kids 15 and younger or active or retired military are admitted free. Post times are 6:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays except Saturday afternoons on Triple Crown race days and Sundays, 5:30 p.m.


About the author: Greg Melikov has been handicapping and writing about horses for decades. His articles and columns on a variety subjects appear globally in print and on the Internet. Greg, a retired newspaperman, spent more than four decades as an editor and writer. He became a racing fan at 13 when he saw 1948 Triple Crown champ Citation whip 20 older horses at old Arlington Park. His website is www.horsingaround.info and he can be contacted at [email protected].

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Newest Public Park in San Antonio

Created Friday, 20 April 2007 10:24

Newest Public Park in San Antonio

Written by Randy Watson

Inaugurated on October 15, 2005, the Government State Canyon Natural Area, is an 8,622 acre area located just a few minutes drive outside of San Antonio, but once you\’ve arrived, you\’ll feel like you\’re in a different world altogether.

For those who feel at home amid the song of wild birds, the bubble of the brooks and streams, and the whistling of the wind through the Mesquite, Juniper, and Wild Oak trees of South Texas, the GSCNA is a wonderful new park to escape the traffic and travails of the city, and to relax in peace.

Although the area is still being developed, and can still be considered a work in progress, the park has been hosting visitors for a year and a half, and has many more improvements slated for future completion.  Currently, there the Natural Area Headquarters building is open, featuring an exhibit hall and the Texas State Park Store.  The group picnic pavilion is open and ready to host, and also many other picnic areas, bathrooms, and classrooms nearby.  Government Canyon also features WIFI (wireless internet), which patrons are able to use.  A nature trail is planned for the future.

The natural beauty, and the diversity of foliage and wildlife in the park are surely enough to justify a visit, but the park gets its name from the delicately crafted canyons that carry cool, clear water through south Texas’ rolling hills and grasslands.

The park is also home to two endangered species of bird: the Golden-Cheeked warbler, and the Black-Capped Vireo.  But the canyon also protects another endangered species: water.  The Edwards Aquifer recharge is the only water supply for San Antonio, and the majority of the park covers this zone.  In helping to keep San Antonio’s water supply clean and available, the park is insuring that the city will continue to thrive.

Since Government Canyon is such a precious and delicate area, rules are in place to insure that the region remains unspoiled, clean, and that the animals are able to thrive.  Visitors of all types are welcome, and the trails are frequented by hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders, and families just out for an afternoon picnic or stroll.  All visitors are asked to participate in the “Leave No Trace” maintenance program, and carry out all trash and help to reduce the impact of humans on nature.

Government Canyon is currently open for day use only, and no camping is allowed.  The park is OPEN Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 8 AM-6 PM, and is CLOSED Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Visitors should call the park before heading out to make sure that inclement weather hasn’t closed a road, or that repairs aren’t underway.

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Rainwater Harvesting

Created Thursday, 19 April 2007 20:24

Rainwater Harvesting

Written by Randy Watson

 In a moderately dry region of the United States, the collection and storage of water can be a wise precaution for all Texans to undertake. A very cheap, effective form of doing so is rainwater harvesting. While the term practically explains itself, rainwater harvesting is simply the act of collecting and storing rainwater off of a roof or any other surface catchment, storing it for later use. This method, which is widely used in countries such as China and India, can be used to supply water for both human and material consumption.

 

Since rainwater harvesting can be used for a wide array of purposes, overpopulated places that suffer from poverty find this method a crucial part of their daily lives, having it become the very backbone of their existence. This liquid harvesting helps stabilize and maintain their economies, as many third world countries rely on farming as their chief export. Merely by acting out its role as the chief supply of water for drinking, domestic, livestock, and irrigation purposes, this simple and concise procedure is beneficial to any one who tangles with it. On top of this, it helps to reduce water bills and storing the water elsewhere can easily replace the use of expensive, hard-to-manage reservoirs.

Urban communities and cities can benefit just as much through the practice of rainwater harvesting. To name a few, this naturally harvested water can help meet city requirements of water levels, increase soil moisture for urban gardening, and help to control and mitigate urban flooding. In all scenarios, the water can be used for flushing toilets and washing laundry.

As with many things, the systems used for this harvesting can either be simple or complex. Simple setups such as a roof, a gutter and a small holding area directly beneath the gutter is a simple yet effective way of storing rainwater. Downspouts and French drains may be used if you do not wish to construct a small holding area. The best catchments, or the surface used to trap the water, have hard, smooth surfaces. Concrete or metal roofing material will serve just fine.

After the water is trapped, a distribution system can be set into place to transfer the water from the catchment to the holding area. Distribution systems can be as simple as a hill or sloped ditch, but the system used by the majority of rain harvesters is the gutter and downspout method.

For the holding area, any depression in the ground will suffice. Preferably covering the concave with grass or plants will help store the water for irrigation uses. If using the water for these purposes, be aware of the fact that the digger you deep, poorer quality soils begin to appear. These poorer quality soils are often unsuitable for most plants used in Texas landscaping. As your ideas and expertise grow, more complex systems can be established. You can add pipes or a drip distribution system to maximize the amount of harvested water.

Once the water is harvested and placed into your holding area properly, treatment of the water must take place before any drinking of the water may occur. Rain water is contaminated with things such as bird feces, dust, and pesticides. Low-cost methods are available to help you decontaminate the water. Your options include solar water disinfection or boiling.

Common maintenance must be applied to your system to maintain maximum efficiency. Tasks that need to be completed include keeping debris out, cleaning and repairing the channels,
keeping up with fresh filters, and, if using the water for irrigation purposes, remember to expand your water basins as the plants grow.

This way of conserving natural water has both an easy-to-understand premise and equally easy-to-build ways for constructing one of your own. Despite any amount of annual rainfall, it is very hard to dispute any aspect of water conservation. It is even harder to argue against a water conservation method that also saves money. In any scenario, rainwater harvesting is a beneficial tactic that will surely survive the ages.

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Spurs Cool Off, Stuck in Third

Created Monday, 16 April 2007 13:43

Spurs Cool Off, Stuck in Third

Written by Randy Watson

What started out as a good week and a continuation of a long winning streak, took a turn for the worse on Sunday with the Spurs losing to their arch-rivals, the Dallas Mavericks.  Unfortunately, the loss hurts in more ways than one.  With the loss, and only two games left in the season, the Spurs are locked in 3rd place in the division, with no chance of catching Phoenix.

In Sunday’s game, the Spurs were without their leader, Tim Duncan for much of the second half.  Duncan picked up two technical fouls in less than two minutes late in the 3rd quarter and was relegated to watching the rest of the game from the locker room.  The Spurs could have used him.  The game was close the whole way, but without Duncan, the Spurs simply couldn’t hold on.  Dallas scored nine straight points to end the game, and San Antonio went the last 6:32 without scoring a basket.

Tony Parker led all scorers with 23 points, and Tim Duncan had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks before being ejected.

Before this game, the Spurs had been on a tremendous roll, winning six in a row and going 12-1 over the last 13 games.  Unfortunately, the loss means that should the Spurs meet Phoenix in the second round, and Dallas in the Finals, both will have the home court advantage over the Spurs.  Although it’s a bitter pill, the Spurs must swallow it and quickly get back to playing the kind of ball that allowed them to have such a long winning streak to start with.

The upcoming week features San Antonio traveling to Memphis, and then against Denver to close out the regular season.  The Spurs have been one of the leagues hottest teams since the All-Star break, and will be looking to pick up where they left off before the Dallas loss.

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MAS The Smithsonian in San Antonio

Created Monday, 16 April 2007 08:52

MAS – The Smithsonian in San Antonio

Written by Randy Watson

Someone flipped the switch and the cube, showing off its modernistic latticework, bust into colorful light with several thousand people cheering and throwing confetti. . .and with that, a dream came true, and a 10 year project came to completion.  The Museo Alameda del Smithsonian, a 40,000 sq. foot museum exploring and educating about the Latino influence, history, and heritage, was inaugurated Friday at a huge celebration.  People braved the rain to witness the opening of the San Antonio\’s newest, and perhaps most architecturally brash, museum.

 

The Museo Alameda del Smithsonian’s (MAS) mission is to educate, preserve, and spark conversation about the Latino experience in, and contribution to–not only Texas–but the United States and the world, as well.  It will also serve as a place to celebrate Latino artists from San Antonio and Texas.

Henry R. Munoz III, the chairman of the Alameda National Center for Latino Arts and Culture, and the man responsible for financing and construction of the building, started on the plans 10 years ago.  His thinking that it would be a 3 year project proved to be overly optimistic, but in this case, the ends justify the means.  Costing $12 million, and hoping to draw over 400,000 guests a year, the project was a labor of love, and judging from reactions at the opening, the love is spreading.  And Market Square is transforming…

Located next to Alameda Theater, MAS will be the cornerstone for what city planners hope to make a Latino cultural zone.  The theatre opened in 1949 as a cultural center in itself, showing Spanish language movies, hosting live Latino entertainment, as well as other arts and cultural gatherings.

Where does the Smithsonian fit in to all this?  Finding out that Latinos were underrepresented in its museums, the Smithsonian had been looking to sponsor and promote more Latino projects, and in 1996, announced that by joining with MAS, the Smithsonian would forever be linked with San Antonio.  Since then, the Smithsonian has gone on to add 152 such affiliates in other cities across the United States.

The museum, which will be a showcase for all Latino artists in the area, is off to a wonderful beginning.  The opening exhibits are “The Smithsonian in San Antonio,” featuring objects on loan from the museum in D.C.; “Conjunto,” photos of musicians by the photographer, John Dyer; and a multimedia installation by San Antonio’s own Victoria Suescum entitled, “Tremendo Manicure.”

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San Antonio Royalty

Created Saturday, 14 April 2007 16:41

San Antonio Royalty

Written by Randy Watson

Royalty is just as much a part of Fiesta® San Antonio as the heroes the festivities honor.  Besides the \”Big Three\” royalty – the Queen of the Fiesta, King Antonio, and El Rey Feo – there are several other queens and kings chosen as part of the 10-day celebration.

Queen of the Fiesta
Queen of the Fiesta is chosen by the Order of Alamo.  Founded in 1909 by John Carrington, the Order of Alamo is one of the oldest Fiesta organizations.  Once a year, the members of the Order meet to decide who will be the queen the next year.  Along with queen, a court consisting of a princess and 24 duchesses are chosen.  Most queens only serve one year, but Claire Driscoll served as Queen of Fiesta for three consecutive years, 1904, 1905, and 1906.

King Antonio
King Antonio is another famous Fiesta royalty.  Chosen by the Texas Cavaliers, King Antonio arrives at the Fiesta in the Texas Cavaliers River Parade.  In the early years of the Fiesta, the royalty included several different kings, King Cotton, King Selamat, and King Omala.  When the Texas Cavaliers was formed by John Carrington in 1926, one purpose was to select King Antonio.  The first king crowned by the Cavaliers was Sterling Burke in 1927.

El Rey Feo
As part of medieval tradition, peasants were allowed to elect a king from one of their own.  In honor of this tradition, a second king is chosen reign over the Fiesta.  The Ugly King, El Rey Feo, was first crowned in 1947.  In 1980, Rey Feo was officially made part of the Fiesta.  A scholarship committee sponsors El Rey Feo.  Candidates for The Ugly King raise money and donate it to cover college students’ expenses.

Other Royalty
Miss Fiesta San Antonio is crowned as part of the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.  When the Fiesta Flambeau was first developed Miss Fiesta would make appearances in other parades in exchange for the floats participating in the Fiesta Flambeau.  Today, Miss Fiesta is chosen from college students in San Antonio.

The Queen of Soul represents the African American community and participates in the Fiesta in addition to other civic and community activities.

College students compete for the title of Miss San Antonio who represents the city in the Miss Texas Pageant which is held each July in Fort Worth, Texas.

The San Antonio Charro Association chooses the Charro Queen to represent their organization.  The Charro Association hosts both the Fiesta Charreada and Viva Fiesta!

The Reina de la Feria de las Flores is El Rey Feo’s queen counterpart.  The queen also raises funds for the Rey Feo Scholarship Committee.  In 1947, the first Reina was chosen.

From among the area’s high school population, the Fiesta Teen Queen is chosen by the Woman’s Club of San Antonio.

Since all of the organizations sponsoring the Fiesta’s royalty are non-profit, campaign funds are donated to a cause supported by the sponsoring organization.  Royalty participates in both civic and community activities throughout the year, even when the Fiesta celebration has ended.

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Putting the Wild in Your Life

Created Friday, 13 April 2007 23:28

Putting the Wild in Your Life

Written by Randy Watson

The San Antonio Zoo is sponsoring a petting zoo that will be running until early 2008.  This exhibit is a barnyard-themed affair, with plenty of seating, assistance, and lots of \”hands-on\” experience. It\’s a great, educational exhibit for children of all ages can come into contact strange and exciting animals, such as an Africal Pygmy goat. The petting zoo is open from 9 AM-6PM.

The San Antonio Zoo began under fairly non-descript circumstances, with Col. George W. Brackenridge showing a few animals in San Pedro Park in 1914.  He eventually deeded to the city the land now known as Brackenridge Park, and the zoo was soon built.  From these humble beginnings, the zoo has prospered into a fine center for education, enjoyment, and conservation.  Not only is the zoo a place to enjoy seeing rare animals, but the zoo itself features innovative ideas on how to keep animals confined without bars. . .the Barless Bear Terraces, and the Primate Paradise are examples of this innovation.

The Hixon Bird House, opened in 1966, features a recreated tropical rain forest, as well as free-flying birds.  The bird collection here is one of the largest and diverse in the world.  Here one can see Ostriches, Chilean flamingos, Egyptian geese, Australian wood ducks, Congo peacocks, Malayan peacock pheasant, Inca terns, and Hyacinth macaws, just to name a very few.

For those interested in amphibians and reptiles, San Antonio Zoo features a vast array of animals both from here in south Texas, and around the world.  Turtle and snake lovers will be especially interested in visiting the aquarium to catch glimpses of such fascinating animals as the African bush viper, Kenya horned viper, East African green mamba, Angolan python, Crocodile monitor, Red Spitting Cobra, Mexican alligator lizard, Malaysian painted terrapin, and Komodo dragon.

The Zoo is set up with exhibits based on certain natural areas found in the world.  African Plains is built around the idea of the watering hole, and shows how animals congregate around the common need for water.  Here the visitor is likely to see zebra, giraffes, antelope, ducks, and gazelles.  Amazonia is patterned after the huge tropical forest of the Americas, and features many monkeys, small cats, sloths, anteaters, reptiles, and birds.  Many rare tropical plants that have been confiscated from smugglers are on display here.

For sheer beauty and tranquility, a trip to see Butterflies! should not be missed.  There are around 20 species of butterflies on display in the garden and many visitors are delighted to find that these beautiful, inquisitive creatures will land on their hands or shirts.  These fragile creatures are indeed nature’s works of art!  The Gibbon Forest is a chance to see and learn about gibbons, the link between lesser apes and chimps and gorillas.  These interesting creatures are endangered, and this display explains how the zoo is taking part in conserving these beautiful creatures.

The San Antonio Zoo is open 365 days a year, in the summer from 9AM-6PM, and in the winter from 9AM-5PM.

Admission pricing is:

Members: FREE
Adults: $9.00
Military Discount $1 Off
Senior Citizens 62 and over: $7.00
Children 3 – 11 yrs: $7.00
Children ages 2 and under: FREE
Handicapped 3 -14 yrs: $4.50
Handicapped 15 yrs and up: $6.00
Parking: FREE

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Fiesta Parades

Created Friday, 13 April 2007 11:58

FIesta Parades

Written by Randy Watson

The famous Fiesta® San Antonio was birthed with a parade.  It\’s no surprise that parades continue to be one of the largest attractions during the 10-day celebration. Of all the parades held during the annual event, there are three that are a must-see for Fiesta attendees.  These are The Texas Cavaliers River Parade, The Fiesta Flambeau, and the parade that started it all, The Battle Of Flowers.

 

Texas Cavaliers River Parade
In 1926, the Texas Cavaliers was formed by John Carrington to preserve the ideals held by the heroes of the Alamo.  The Texas Cavaliers had another purpose – to name King Antonio.  Each year, a king is selected from the members of the Cavaliers.  The first King Antonio, crowned in 1927, was Sterling Burke.

From the beginning, King Antonio made his official arrival at the Fiesta.  However, in the first few years, there was no traditional way for the king to arrive.  Automobile, plane, and train were some of the first methods of arrival.  In 1941, after major improvements to the San Antonio River had been completed, King Antonio made his arrival in a river parade.  This was the birth of a tradition.

One of the few parades in which the floats actually float, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade uses professionally decorated barges to dazzle the audience.

The Fiesta Flambeau
The inception of Fiesta Flambeau in 1948 was met with much skepticism since the Fiesta already featured a number of parades.  Not one to be defeated, Reynolds Andricks, founding father of the Fiesta Flambeau, came up with the innovative idea of having the parade at night and lighting the parade with torches made of flares and flashlights.

The Fiesta Flambeau wouldn’t be a Fiesta parade if it didn’t have royalty.  Each military base votes for a male and female representative to serve as “Military Ambassadors” during the parade.  The coveted Miss Fiesta is the Queen of the parade.

Leadership of the Fiesta Flambeau changed a few times after Andricks passed away in 1984.  Since the Fiesta Flambeau Parade Association took over in 1989, they have put on some of the best parades yet.

The Battle of the Flowers
The oldest and largest parade of them all, the Battle of the Flowers, started what is known today as Fiesta® San Antonio.  Since it first begun, the Battle of the Flowers has been completely planned and directed by women.  The purpose of the first parade was to honor the memory of the heroes who fought in the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto.

Parade participants in the first Battle of the Flowers actually battled each other, with flowers, of course.  Half the participants headed in one direction, while the other half headed in the other direction.  As the two groups passed each other, they hurled flowers at each other.

Today, the parade participants don’t throw flowers at each other, but they do place flowers on the lawn in front of the Alamo.

The three parades have three very different origins, but one goal, commemorating the heritage and culture of San Antonio.

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History of Fiesta

Created Thursday, 12 April 2007 13:15

History of Fiesta

Written by Randy Watson

The Battles of Alamo and San Jacinto, fought in 1836, were crucial battles in the Texas Revolution; both played a key role in shaping the history of Texas.  More than half a century later, another memorable event was birthed.  On the 55th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, in 1891, the first Battle of Flowers was held to honor the heroes that battled for the freedom of Texas.  The Battle of Flowers wasn\’t a battle in the literal sense, but a parade, with lots of – you guessed it – flowers.

 

San Antonio women planned and directed the parade from start to finish.  The first parade was adorned with flowers.  Horse-drawn carriages were decorated with flowers.  Flowers garnished the bicycles.  Even the children carried by the floats were dressed as flowers.  The people in the parade hurled flowers at each other, as if they were in a battle; hence, the name, Battle of Flowers.

The Battle of Flowers was the start of the 10-day event known today as Fiesta San Antonio.  Each year after the first celebration, the parade was held around April 21.  It wasn’t long before there were other events occurring around the same time.  Mock coronations, carnivals, and balls joined the Battle of Flowers, creating a tradition.  There were only a few years since the first Battle of Flowers in 1891 that the Fiesta did not occur – in 1918 when the United States was at war and between the years 1942 and 1945.

The Fiesta features mock coronations, but who exactly is being crowned?  The queen and her court, of course.  Fiesta organizations come together to plan each of the celebrations. One of the first organizations created was the Order of the Alamo, founded in 1909 by John Carrington.  Each year, the members of the Order meet to select the next queen and her court, which includes a princess and 24 duchesses – 12 from San Antonio and 12 from out of town.

In 1926, John Carrington formed another Fiesta organization, the Texas Cavaliers, to select King Antonio.  The following year, the Cavaliers crowned their first king, Sterling Burke, who was crowned King Antonio IX.

Although the crowning of King Antonio became part of the Fiesta tradition, there was no set ritual for how the king officially arrived at the celebration.  In the first years, the mode of transportation varied from automobiles to trains and even a plane.

In the 1941 celebration, after improvements to the San Antonio River were completed, the king arrived in a river parade.  This was the first parade to take place in the river after the Works Progress Administration finished the river’s improvements.  The River Parade became the official arrival of King Antonio.  Even today, it’s one of the most popular parts of the celebration.

The Fiesta has not one, but two reigning kings.  Having two kings was significant for the Fiesta and the city of San Antonio because it bridged a cultural gap.  The second king, the “Ugly King”, or, El Rey Feo, became part of the Fiesta celebration in 1980.

For well over 100 years, the Fiesta has been a festive occasions for San Antonio residents and visitors alike.  The unique history and culture embedded in the event truly make it one of a kind.

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