Alamo Plaza Plan Could Threaten San Antonio’s Most Famed Parade Route

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The Battle of Flowers Parade passes in front of the Alamo.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The 2017 Battle of Flowers Parade passes in front of the Alamo.

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.


22 thoughts on “Alamo Plaza Plan Could Threaten San Antonio’s Most Famed Parade Route

  1. Agreed! Thank you ladies for your leadership and standing in support of keeping these important Texas traditions alive. These annual events, among many others, honor the lives of those lost at the Battle of the Alamo.

  2. I haven’t had a chance to see the revised proposed plans. Does closing down Alamo Street also mean it’s closed to foot traffic? Is a wall still in the revised proposal?

  3. At first I had my doubts about the closing of Álamo St. However after considering the fact that this would increase the amount of pedestrian space within our city, The Promenade is actually my favorite part of this plan.

    I can see a compromise if the wall was to be eliminated we could still hold the parade while also keeping the street closed year round to traffic not parte of those above mentioned parades.

  4. Looking at the Alamo with fresh eyes helps you see that the Alamo Battlefield and the Mission San Antonio de Valero lie under Alamo Plaza. It is this place that was to be honored by a new plan.
    The Alamo church is not all there is to the Alamo.
    This article repeats 8 times that the parades should be able to march “in front of” the Alamo. It should read on top of the Alamo mission and across the battlefield.
    A plan keep the plaza open to vehicular traffic and noise my be made but it won’t be one that fully honors the historic site, much less the important events that took place there, or the many people that lived and died there.

    • Two parades that celebrate the creativity and talents of our diverse area and bring us together honors all the Alamo heroesin the most beautiful appropriate way.
      , I believe Jim Bowie, William Barret Travis, and Davy Crockett and Santa Anna were men who would love be ing appreciated with a Fiesta!!! Music , dancing , laughter , and beautiful people.. smiling
      What both sides fought for must remembered ..too .. they fought for others to find opportunities to thrive in Texas .and nothing says that better then a parade.

  5. The road running in front of the Alamo, historically speaking, has existed longer than the buildings, and parade or not, has every right to be there. Closing a major down town artery could create traffic nightmares.
    Be very careful for what you wish!!!

    • Of course you meant the road running through the Alamo, not in front of. Alamo Plaza being the Alamo fort. The Alamo church is just that. The church of the Alamo. Little of the battle took place there. Out on Alamo Plaza, the blood ran ankle deep. No frivolous parade should be passing through a battlefield, or the graveyard of over 1000 mission Indian converts. It’s not all about what’s convenient”.

  6. As proposed, in the future, instead of continuing onto Alamo Plaza from North Alamo Street the parade route will turn east at Houston, south onto Bowie, then west onto Crockett. Wreaths will be removed from the floats on Crockett along side the Alamo church, then placed in the grassy area in front of the church. The idea of the parade is to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto and this altered parade route will do just that. I think what a lot of people may be bemoaning is the loss of photo ops during the parade with the church facade in the background. (And that is understandable.) But it is not all about what is convenient to us, but rather what best honors the heroes. (Plus the over 1000 Native American converts whose remains continue to rest beneath Alamo Plaza.)

  7. Closing another downtown street will only increase the difficulty of movement through our city. It’s a very dumb idea.

  8. Among the most famous and beautiful historic urban plazas in the world is the Piazza Navona in Rome, and it is closed to vehicular traffic. Yet, this amazing public, sacred, and historical space still has annual parades, and its ceremony and parades have been an integral part of its history.

    The notion that closing a space to daily, regular, downtown automobile traffic somehow necessarily bars a public parade is false.

    However, the plan’s previously suggested glass terrarium walls will certainly block a parade, as will any misbegotten idea of recreating in Disneyesque fashion the fortification walls of 1836. Thankfully, none of these will likely now happen.

    The proposed relocation of the Alamo Cenotaph is a mistake. Relocation only made sense in conjunction with the proposed glass walls or fortification recreations, as the cenotaph would indeed overly dominate any resulting enclosed space. With no glass walls, the primary reason for relocating the cenotaph no longer exists. Additionally, when the plaza space is considered in its totality, the Alamo Cenotaph, along with the Alamo Plaza Gazebo, the proposed uncovered South Gate footings, and even the Torch of Friendship help create of processional chain of moments through the plaza leading to the shrine itself. These are not only visual moments in any parade procession through the plaza, but also visual moment for any pedestrian moving through the space, and they need not remain sloppily detailed like traffic islands.

    I cut and framed an image from Google Earth that suggests how wonderful this space and its procession of moments to the Alamo can be:

    It is actually not unlike the size and arrangement of the Piazza Navona, but ours remains a disorganized traffic island complete with service driveway right up to the Alamo’s front lawn when it should instead be a sacred public heart of our city.

    The notion that closing Alamo Street through Alamo Plaza will necessarily create traffic nightmares is also false. Traffic will always adapt to changes as drivers recalculate their routes, and Braess’s Paradox of traffic congestion in a network actually improving with the removal of major streets was demonstrated by Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon project. In Cheonggyecheon, a major central highway was removed to create a river walk directly inspired by our own in San Antonio, and with its removal traffic speeds and flow actually improved. It will be inconvenient for those comparatively few who regularly commute in front of the Alamo and through Alamo Plaza as they will need alter their routes, but changing their routes out of the Alamo is the whole point. There are many alternative and underutilized routes in the network, and the issue of traffic congestion throughout the city does not hinge on this spatially tiny project, but on the development patterns the city chooses to adopt to accommodate the 1 million new residents the city is projected to gain within the next few decades.

  9. Third time’s a charm?

    As proposed, instead of continuing onto Alam0 Plaza, the route for The Battle Of Flowers parade will, in the future, turn east from North Alamo Street onto Houston Street, south onto Bowie Street, then west onto Crockett Street. The parade floats will then have their floral tributes taken by the young men in blue uniforms to the grassy “campo santo” plot in front of the Alamo church. The original idea for the Battle Of Flowers parade was to honor the heroes of the Alamo and San Jacinto. This rerouting of the parade from off the Alamo battlefield will help to accomplish just that. A frivolous parade should not be taking place on ground where nearly 200 years ago, the blood of heroes ran ankle deep. I think that many people who protest this rerouting are bemoaning the fact that they will be losing the photo op of the Alamo church facade in the background of their parade photos. And that’s understandable. But it is not all about “us” or our inconvenience. It is rather to, at long last, show proper respect to the Alamo heroes, the Alamo battlefield, plus the over 1000 Native American Indian converts whose remains are interred beneath Alamo Plaza.

  10. I want to be able to drive by and see the Alamo any time I want to because I was born here and the Alamo is in my DNA. It doesn’t belong to the tourists or the historians or the park planners, it belongs to me and those of us who visited it in third grade. I want to see it because it means home. All the years we lived away, when we came back to visit, the only way I’d feel like I was truly home was a drive by the Alamo (and dinner at Mi Tierra.) Why are my needs not important? I don’t care about taking photos, I just want to say Hi, Alamo, it’s me again. Glad you are still here and I don’t care that everyone thought you would be bigger. See you next time.

  11. This article says the parades are presently a success.

    So, people who would want to help keep the San Antonio parades a sucess must vote down ANY changes, and people in each City Council district must tell their respective Council member: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!

  12. Our ancestor was a Courier into the Alamo grounds. He deluvered a letter to Travis from Houston. The idea that we cannot vehicle in front of the Alamo, as he rode his horse in front of the Alamo, insults those of us who live here and have grown up with, and love the Alamo as our family.
    We should not accept being denied access to our Alamo. Let the will of the people prevail.

  13. The Rivard Report Title: “Alamo Plaza Could threaten San Antonio’s Most Famed Parade Route”, should have been reversed: Alamo preservation/Restoration Plan Threatened by Parade Route Preservation.
    As I testified before the early public hearing on the Alamo Plan: the Alamo is known around the world for the heroism of our forefathers in defending liberty. My grandmothers great grandfather, Thomas McClure Rice, like so many others, willingly risked and lost his life defending the Republic of Texas (Santa Anna’s artillery fire at 1842 Battle of Salado Creek). Parade Routes and other subjects may be important, but they should in no way subtract from preserving this hallowed ground to honor those who died in battle for our liberty, and to tell of its extreme importance to present and future generations.

  14. The Alamo compound doesn’t have to be to scale to accomplish the goal of recreating the environment. The wall can stop before Alamo street. Besides the parades, Alamo St is my go to route from Southtown to North side. Evidence of it’s utility to traffic movement is the trolley using that route and really getting messed up when it is occasionally cut off. Already lost Main St twice as N-S route. Don’t recall ever being concerned about noise when visiting Alamo. Next visit will pay closer attention.

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