Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Fiesta San Antonio as we know it today started in 1891, when a group of distinguished citizens held a flower parade in front of the Alamo to honor the fallen heroes of the namesake battle and the Battle of San Jacinto in which Texas won its independence from Mexico.
Thus the Battle of Flowers parade and its organizing body were born.
Since its inception, the parade has proceeded down Alamo Street to the front of the Alamo where all entries are required to give a fresh floral wreath tribute to participating cadets who lay them reverently on the green grounds in front of the Alamo, honoring the fallen.
Now, 127 years later, that famed parade route may become jeopardized by plans to redesign Alamo Plaza.
The Battle of Flowers parade is now the second largest day parade in the country, put on entirely by women volunteers. In 2018, there were more than 11,500 participants from all across our city with an estimated 500,000 spectators. Thirty-two public schools and more than 2,000 Junior ROTC participants marched in our parade. Our military had almost 300 participants. The 2018 televised viewership was up 5 percent over the previous year.
For 70 years, another San Antonio tradition – the Fiesta Flambeau Parade, known as the “peoples’ parade” – has enjoyed the same parade route. The Flambeau is the “largest illuminated night parade” in the United States, and this year had more than 10,000 participants, an estimated 750,000 street spectators, and television viewership was up 10 percent from the previous year.
The Flambeau parade route has likewise traveled down Alamo Street, passing in front of the Alamo, since its inception. The Flambeau has its own legacy paying homage to the fallen of the Battle of the Alamo, in which the University of Texas Longhorn band stops in the front of the monument and performs the “Eyes of Texas.”
As part of the Alamo Master Plan, Alamo Street could be permanently closed, in which case the parade tradition with a view of the front of the Alamo could not continue. Both parades’ associations would lose significant revenues from not being able to sell seats located in the Alamo Street area. Seats around and across from the Alamo are considered prime and always sell out first. Both the Battle of Flowers Association and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade Association rely heavily on the annual revenue generated from ticket sales to offset their costs.
We are hopeful that these two iconic San Antonio parade traditions – the Battle of Flowers Parade and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade – can continue with the historic route in front of the Alamo on Alamo Street for two days out of the year.
Generations of San Antonians have marched down the street in front view of the Alamo honoring the fallen heroes. It is a rich tradition that should be preserved and maintained for generations to come.