Participants of all ages dance in the King William Parade and Fair in 2014. Credit: Courtesy / King William Fair

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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!

Alicia Spence-Schlesinger

Alicia Spence-Schlesinger

Alicia Spence-Schlesinger is the King William Fair Parade's chief parade wrangler and marketing coordinator.