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Since we arrived in San Antonio almost 10 years ago, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade has remained one of our all-time favorite Fiesta events. This year topped the charts, as we got a chance to ride our bikes to the parade, with an eager toddler riding high upon the bike (definitely a better vantage point and easier maneuverability through crowds than a bike trailer).
The parade, which features decorated river barges, has been going since 1941, with a commitment starting in 1989 to supporting local children’s charities through The Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation. The Texas Cavaliers developed as a way to honor and promote the memory of the “heroes of the Alamo” and now include the support of more than 500 businesses, civic and community leaders.
The River Parade route starts on the San Antonio River by the Havana Riverwalk Inn and winds it way past the Southwest School of Art and Craft, the Crowne Plaza, Weston Centre, along St. Mary’s Street, finally past the Rivercenter Mall, ending at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Over the last few years, the river parade has become increasingly more popular, with tickets going on sale on January 1 for the following year (so mark you calendars for January 1, 2015, for tickets for next year).
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The Texas Cavaliers River Parade has something for everyone. While history buffs might find insight in seeing people come together to honor bravery shown on all sides for the fight for the Alamo, visitors and locals alike can delight in the parade, which attracts more than 250,000 people downtown to line the river.
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The Toddler Reaction
To provide a little context, normally our son is extremely eager to go biking and he loves seeing new things. Tonight was a little different. He was a little under the weather. Even under those circumstances, he was transfixed by the atmosphere of the River Parade. The air was thick with joviality, camaraderie and plain ol’ fun that ranged from toys that blew bubbles, to cotton candy, and glow-in-the-dark wands. (His favorite parts were the floats where people dressed up as animals, dancing and singing and waving. Even hours after the end of the parade, just mentioning these dancing animals to him elicits a smiles and laugh to fill a room.
We can’t wait for next year.
Four Tips for Navigating Fiesta by Bike: With a Toddler
Riding our bikes to the Texas Cavaliers River Parade was insightful regarding navigating Fiesta in San Antonio with a toddler. Here are our top four tips:
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1. Secure your bike.
The ideal way to secure our bikes, to a bike rack, wasn’t possible where we initially stopped. Our solution: Find a well-lighted location (if you are planning on returning at night, as we did) and in clear public view rather than an isolated spot with no people traffic. Fiesta features a police presence, so parking near a police car or officers on duty provides extra security.
2. Find a spot to watch the parade. Reserved seats are nice, but not necessary.
For us, this meant arriving a half hour early to find a small space to sit on a bridge by the Southwest School of Art and Design. We sat and watched the boats float by, trumpeting songs, with people waving and showing off their shoes (a Fiesta tradition). Our son didn’t want to stay there for very long, preferring instead to wander around and walk. Off we went, leaving our spot behind for another family. This brings me to tip #3.
We attached the carrier to the back rack of the bike with a bungee cord and off we went. Our son decided he didn’t want to walk, so I carried him for close to three hours. Although it can be a little tiring, I was happy (and my back too) for having the carrier with me. Plus, it meant I was never worried about him getting lost.
(Side note on using a stroller for the parades: You can try to wander the River Walk with a stroller, but many sections are densely crowded, making it hard to pass and impossible for the child to see the parade.)
4. Go with the flow.
We didn’t expect to attend the parade from start to finish. Our son doesn’t last that long out at events, but this time he wanted to walk and see the bridges and the floats. So we stayed and we enjoyed ourselves. Serendipitously, we ran into a friend, which led to a wonderful and unexpected late-night Fiesta dinner at the Weston Centre.
So, go forth and enjoy the Fiesta activities around San Antonio. This is the last week of events and we look forward to heading out to a few more before the Fiesta season winds down. Hope to see you there.