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.