Annette Crawford at Woodlawn Lake
Texas heat is no match for America’s patriots … but … shade; it’s a beautiful thing.
Especially when you’re talking about San Antonio in the summertime. With the unrelenting heat beating down, shade comes at a premium if you want to escape the sun’s rays.
So it should come as no surprise that the revelers with the best spots at yesterday’s Fourth of July Celebration at Woodlawn Lake Park staked out their locations long before festivities began at 8:30 a.m.
With crime scene tape marking many of their borders, these picnic sites were as simple as a pop-up tent or as elaborate as an outdoor living room.
Even the smallest trees or overgrown bushes had people gathered around them. You’ve seen people huddle around a campfire for warmth? Same concept, different goal.
There were lots of umbrellas and sunglasses, even on dogs. Hey, when it’s this hot out, who cares how ridiculous you look?
But even though there was no shade in front of the main stage, that didn’t stop a crowd from gathering for the opening ceremonies. A veritable round robin of blessedly short speeches ensued after the National Anthem and the posting of the colors by an honor guard from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Special guests included Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark. Clark, the former presidential hopeful, spoke of the incredible support San Antonio has always shown the military and then touted a venture aimed at giving veterans a head start in owning their own business.
I’ll be the first to admit I was a bit puzzled when Clark revealed the franchise – the Grilled Cheese Truck.
I didn’t really get the connection, but I checked out the website afterwards and learned more about its veterans program. The company has committed the first 100 trucks to be run by qualified veterans.
Judging by the smiles of the people who were munching Cheesy Mac Melts, it may not be such a head-scratcher after all.
Cockrell, who turned 91 in January, is the former president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation, the nonprofit organization that sponsors the annual celebration at Woodlawn Lake Park. She retired from the post earlier this year and passed the reins to Peak. Retirement is a relative term for Cockrell. She’s writing a book and stays active enough to shame most people half her age.
I’m always amazed to see the level of civic involvement our former mayors have. Of all the cities I’ve lived in, San Antonio is the only place I’ve ever witnessed this phenomenon: More often than not, if you see one ex-mayor, there’s at least one or more in the general vicinity.
It’s that kind of patriotic spirit that’s pretty darn cool … even in the sizzling Texas heat.
Annette Crawford is a public affairs officer at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. She is also the house photographer for the Majestic Theatre and Sam’s Burger Joint & Music Hall. You can read her music and travel blog at www.thegroovygringa.com or follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @thegroovygringa.
Steven Starnes at Hemisfair Park
Last night an estimated 275,000 San Antonians gathered at Hemisfair Park and throughout downtown San Antonio to celebrate our nation’s independence and freedom. We celebrated the brave men and women who have fought to keep our nation free. So while taking photos of the revelers, I took some time to find out who a few of these men and women are.
Derrick from Chicago
Wearing a wounded warrior project shirt, I saw him walking by with a giant American flag hanging from his shoulder. He has a prosthetic left leg. He said that he carried the flag because he’s very proud of serving in the United States military – for our country. As we talked, he mentioned he had his leg amputated only three months ago and was already running again thanks to the support and rehabilitation available to him. He is still on active duty.
Mother From Cuba
I continued walking and saw a cute baby girl dressed in as much red, white, and blue as possible. It was clearly the girl’s first Independence Day. The Fourth of July carries a lot of meaning for the baby’s mother, Maya. At age three, Maya was brought to Miami from Cuba by her Mother. Her mother refused assistance, worked late nights and odd jobs, and learned English so Maya and her sister could have a better life. Her mother worked hard and became a U.S. citizen as soon as she could. Maya still has family in Cuba, she says they wish they had the independence like she has here.
General from the Air Force
U.S. Air Force Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. was on site as a special guest, and on stage he spoke of his future retirement here in San Antonio.
Kids From Saudi Arabia
This group of teenagers, some from Saudi Arabia and their friends, were enjoying the festivities – very proud to be in America and to have freedoms that are often denied in their home country. In attempt to tie the flags together they accidentally inverted the American flag causing tensions to rise with a few near by people. After some discussion between the groups and a few police officers stopped by, things were quickly at ease. To me, they highlight San Antonio’s cultural inclusion and perhaps our independence means as much to those who do not have it as it does to us.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Steve Starnes is a local film and digital photographer. When not shooting events or weddings, you can find him wondering around downtown looking for a great portrait of a perfect stranger. Steve spends his free time shooting film, riding his bicycle, or swimming with his kids at the pool. For more of his work, visit his website at www.stevenstarnesphotography.com or his Facebook page.