History Is Alive and Well: The King William Parade’s Story

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Courtesy / King William Fair

Participants of all ages dance in the King William Parade and Fair in 2014.

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This year’s King William Parade will honor San Antonio’s Tricentennial by creating an experience that is both visually stunning and educational for its audience. This moving timeline will display key events, folklore, and music that have played an impactful role in San Antonio’s diversity.

Members of the Canary Islands Descendants Association will be honored as this year’s Grand Marshal. In 1730, 10 brave families marched from Veracruz, Mexico, to the presidio of San Antonio de Bexar; along the way the families grew to 16. Is your last name the same as one of these 16 families? You’ll find out at the Parade.

The Canary Islanders will be accompanied by the artwork of SAY Sí alumnus Martin Delgado. Martin will create a San Fernando Cathedral sculpture to represent the first organized civil government in Texas that was created by the Canary Islanders.

Henry Cisneros will serve as our Honor Guard to commemorate our brave Hispanic ancestors who helped form our government. Henry served as San Antonio’s mayor from 1981-1989. He was our second Hispanic mayor since 1842 when Juan Seguín was forced out of office at gun point. Following his career as our city’s mayor, Henry served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, who said Cisneros was "a brilliant public servant,” and that people had no idea how much he contributed to the government.

Learning about our history should be fun, memorable and, most importantly, personal. Anet Alaniz, owner of Pig Liquors in Southtown, will share “The Giant Killer,” the story of her father, John Alaniz, the first Mexican-American state representative from San Antonio. Other participants have chosen stories that spark their creativity and define their true nature. I won’t reveal the entry of the darlings of the Parade, La Tuna Icehouse, but I will say it’s a perfect fit!

Most importantly, we couldn’t tell the story of San Antonio without honoring our Parade’s first chief parade wrangler, Sue Duffy. The Parade has played a role in the King William Fair since its beginning in 1968, with an organic growth of entertainment offered by earlier Fair committees. By 1982, the Fair was not considered officially open until the Brackenridge High School (formerly Wheatley High School) band marched down King William Street followed by kids on skates, bicycles, and anyone who showed up in costume.

In 2007, after 20 years of Fair participation, Sue Duffy was asked to manage and organize our Parade. For the past 11 years, Sue has invested countless hours in year-round planning, recruiting and encouraging parade entries. She brought many innovations to the parade, like book handouts from Half Price Books and the involvement of the Alamo City Roller Derby league, whose members colorfully manage the gaps between parade entries.

Exactly three weeks after last year’s Fair, Sue lost her battle to cancer. Even while she was battling cancer during last year’s celebration – unbeknownst to those around her – she pushed through it all and put things in order. Sue touched many lives before losing her fight, so we plan to honor her with a new, annual tradition of a “Wrangle On, Sue” banner at the end of every Parade.

Using the Parade as a medium to telling a new story about San Antonio and its people each year is inspired by Sue Duffy. The one statement I’ll never forget while spending the last year under her wing was, “We are the stage managers and the Parade is our stage!”

I hope everyone enjoys the Parade moving forward, and I will give 100 percent to filling Sue’s shoes as the new chief parade wrangler. ¡Viva Fiesta!

7 thoughts on “History Is Alive and Well: The King William Parade’s Story

  1. The Rivard Report team will proudly bring up the rear again this year aboard CicloFiesta, decorated for the occasion. Supporting members along the parade route can claim their Rivard Report Fiesta medals. New members who join now will be eligible.

    Long live Sue! Thank you, Alicia, for your service and helping to continue and grow this great tradition. — Robert Rivard

  2. The sentence stating Brackenridge was “formerly Wheatley” is a bit misleading. In this context, “at that time known as Wheatley” would be more accurate. During its 100-year history, Brackenridge was only Wheatley for less than 15 years.

  3. In the mid-’80s I was the Duchess of Backseat Memories in a very loosey-goosey King William Parade. Blair Corning, the social columnist for the SAEN, arrived waving from the back of a garbage truck. The following year, because of my anti-noise campaign on the River, I was the Duchess of Decibels. It was great fun and I’m sure remains so, even though it appears to be a little more organized than days of yore.

  4. The article states that 10 families marched from Vera Cruz Mexico to San Antonio. That is a little confusing. They actually traveled from the Canary Islands and were joined by others while traveling through Vera Cruz to San Antonio.

  5. Lovely article mentioning my special sister Sue Duffy. She dearly loved working on the parade and took pride in keeping it authentically eclectic. The relationships she cultivated during the process were dear to her heart. Thank you so much for continuing to keep Sue an important part of this historical occasion. Sue and Ryan put their heart and soul into an event that they could share with family, friends and the great city she loved. I know she is Wrangling on the other side. Congrats Alicia, she would be proud of you!!!

  6. Thank you Sue Duffy and Ryan, for the inspiration that both of them built, and legacy that will proceed forever. It took two special people to encounter thousands of people to enjoy a one happy day event for one day. Sue and Ryan succeeded, there should be a monumental statue of Sue and Ryan. They deserve it, this event well keep growing stronger! God Bless them both.

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