Friday, April 16, 2010

Viva Fiesta in San Antonio, Texas!

The latest from the Alamo City... it's FIESTA TIME!

New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Rio de Janeiro has Carnival. And San Antonio has Fiesta — 11 days of partying, Texas-style. Fiesta began in 1891 with a single parade honoring the heroes from the battles of San Jacinto and the Alamo. Women in decorated horse-drawn carriages gathered in front of the Alamo to toss flowers at each other.

Today there are more than 100 events around the city celebrating the unique spirit of San Antonio with live music, food, dancing, fairs and art.  Not to mention all kinds of parades, including the floating Texas Cavaliers' River Parade, the nighttime Fiesta Flambeau Parade and the Battle of Flowers Parade — inspired by those bloom-tossing ladies.

The festivities kick off today with Fiesta Fiesta, the opening ceremony at the Alamo that includes live music, food and children's activities, emceed by San Antonio native and ABC News anchor John Quiñones. Americana music star Kevin Fowler headlines.  They're not the only celebrities joining the fun. Former Spur David Robinson will head River Parade, while singer Vikki Carr will be the grand marshal of the Flambeau.

Fiesta's royalty are celebrities in their own right. There's King Antonio, who represents the order of the Cavaliers, and El Rey Feo, the “ugly king,” a monarch for the masses.  But there are no ugly queens at Fiesta — at the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, the queen, as well as princess and duchesses, wear elaborately decorated gowns. There's also Miss Fiesta San Antonio, the Queen of Soul and the Charro Queen.  And don't forget King Anchovy of Cornyation, the irreverent pageant that pokes fun at current events, and El Rey Fido, who's top dog at the Pooch Parade.

It seems like every Fiesta-goer has a favorite event. There's the Fiesta Carnival packed with games and rides. A Taste of New Orleans at Sunken Garden Theater boasts music and cuisine. A Night in Old San Antonio takes over La Villita with entertainment and food from different cultures. Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary's University is all about music and eating. 

Those same Fiesta-goers know how to make the most of the party: Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen. See how many Fiesta medals and pins you can collect. And beware friends bearing cascarones, colorful eggshells that spill confetti over your head. 

After more than a century, Fiesta continues to evolve. This year, it is making strides toward a greener celebration.  The Fiesta Commission is working with the city to provide recycling containers at several events, including NIOSA, Fiesta Fiesta, King William Fair and Fiesta de los Niños at Port San Antonio. At the major street parades, groups that sell seating will collect recyclables. 

But some things about Fiesta that never change — it raises thousands of dollars for various charities every year, and it brings residents and visitors together to celebrate San Antonio's diverse heritage and culture. ¡Viva Fiesta!

Article by Jessica Belasco from the San Antonio Express News

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