For 30 plus years, a group of neighbors in King William has carried on an illustrious tradition: The Fourth of July King William Yacht Club Regatta. A motley crew of paddlers with kayaks and canoes in tow assembled yesterday morning at the Nueva Street floodgates downtown. Competitors in canoes launched first, with kayakers and “leisure-class canoers,” departing afterwards.
Vessels were decorated in full patriotic regalia. American flag shirts, glimmering garlands, a hula hoop, all sorts of spirited hats and headwear–even a beautiful dog with a red, white and blue bow graced the river.
From the Johnson Street bridge, spectators watched as participants furiously (or not so furiously) paddled their way to the finish line. After the race, observers and boaters headed to the Upper Mill Park, where a bountiful potluck brunch awaited.
Following the brunch, trophies were awarded to the winners of the race and to the team with the most style. (The hula hooping team took that one home, obviously.) The two trophies change hands every Fourth of July. Each year, the winners of the race have their names engraved on a plaque that accompanies the trophy, creating a nice record of King William’s athletic elite throughout time.
One resident recalled that in all of the many years he’s been party to the Regatta, rain has only put a damper on the festivities once. “I guess that says something about San Antonio’s weather,” he noted, laughing.
After the race and brunch, some chose to continue paddling. Changes to the rules about boating on the river now allow anyone to recreationally kayak or canoe without a permit in the King William and Eagleland zones. Between the shade and the breeze, it’s a pleasant and surprisingly cool summer activity.
For the rest of the season, when the heat has you down and outdoor activities seem like the least appealing of all options, keep the river in mind. (Perhaps a kayak-share program is the next step for San Antonio. Watch your back, B-cycle!) Take a page from the book of the King William Yacht Club, and grab a paddle.
Miriam Sitz works for Accion Texas Inc., the nation’s largest non-profit microlender. You can follow her on Twitter at @Miriam210. She is also the author of the San Antonio restaurant and culture blog Miriam210.com and makes and sells handmade soap, cards, and other crafts at TinderboxGoods.com.