On one of the last cool nights before the pre-summer heat descends on the city, a crowd of Fiesta revelers gathered at the Garden Casa Villita for the Kings Party. Tucked away from the chaos of NIOSA, the invitation-only Kings Party emanated chaos of its own for Fiesta’s “high society.”
The crowd was a moving mass of bright colors as attendees greeted old friends, sipped drinks, and munched on churros, fresh fruit, and flautas. The sound of laughter and the smoke of roasting meat hung low above the heads of revelers. Nearly everyone pinned a Fiesta medal to their heart, and more than a few sported several years worth of medals on ribbon sashes.
Attendees veered off NIOSA’s main corridor to enter the exclusive confines of Garden Casa Villita, a one-story limestone house on the banks of the San Antonio River. The Fiesta royalty members, the driving force for the party, briefly appeared before dashing off to another function.
San Antonio Conservation Society President Sue Ann Pemberton, which organizes and benefits from NIOSA and the Kings Party, said the parties are a platform for people to share the city's many cultures, food, and music.
“Everybody in the city comes together. You could have been mad at each other and not speaking to each other last week, but during this event there’s a whole lot that gets done with regards to mending fences, making deals, and promising to work together and collaborate on various issues,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to get out of the office and have good conversations.”
Mayor Ivy Taylor stopped by the Kings Party – even getting in a bite of food before running off to yet another a mayoral forum as she seeks election for a full term.
“I’d like to stay a little longer, but maybe I’ll get to come back (to NIOSA) another night this week,” she said. NIOSA wraps up its raucous party on Thursday – unofficially known as "college night."
Mayor Taylor said she came to the party to support the Conservation Society, founded by 13 women in 1924, which has grown to 1,700 men and women dedicated to preserve the history, structures, customs, green spaces, and the diverse cultural heritage of San Antonio.
Mayor Taylor said she's looking forward to Saturday's Fiesta Flambeau Parade when she will be riding in one of the Cinderella-style carriages with her 11-year-old daughter, Morgan.
"She's been wanting to do that forever and I just can't wait to see the smile on her face," she said.
Attendee Bill Sibley stood laughing with a friend, holding a margarita in each hand.
“You get two at a time, that’s the secret,” he said.
He said a friend called him up at the last-minute and invited him to the party.
“My philosophy on Fiesta is if I don’t have to work for it, I’ll be there. You get me a ticket to Cornyation, I’ll be there. You get me into A Night in Old San Antonio, I’ll be there,” he said. “Helicopter me in, and I’ll be the life of the party.”
Sibley said he frequents all of the various Fiesta events.
“In San Antonio, we do everything. We go to A Night in Old San Antonio, we stand out in the parade, we go to the Taste of New Orleans – I parked cars this weekend for A Taste of New Orleans. We tied it into a fundraiser for our neighborhood,” he said. “Everybody gets down and dirty, you know. You do what you do.”
*Featured/top image: The Kings Party was hosted at the Garden Casa Villita on Tuesday. Photo by Joan Vinson.