Fiesta 101: What you need to know about San Antonio’s annual citywide party
It’s Fiesta in San Antonio! If you have visited San Antonio, you probably know that it’s a city that loves a party. For ten days each year, residents and visitors gather for Fiesta San Antonio, a celebration of the unique history and culture of San Antonio. During Fiesta, local non-profit organizations host parades, parties and other events to raise money for those in need. Over the years, this “party with a purpose” has acquired many fun traditions that make sense to San Antonians. However, some of the traditions may seem a little odd or confusing to those unfamiliar with the festivities. But, never fear! We have put together this handy blog post to bring you up to speed on all things Fiesta.
Fiesta began as a parade to honor the soldiers that fought in the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto during the Texas Revolutionary War. The tradition began on April 21, 1891; when Ellen Maury Slayden, the wife of a local congressman, honored the soldiers with a “Battle of Flowers” parade. The first parade featured horse-drawn carriages, bicycles decorated with fresh flowers and floats with children dressed as flowers. The parade continues to be held today and occurs on the last Friday of Fiesta, drawing more than 350,000 attendees as the parade winds through downtown San Antonio.
Another Fiesta tradition is the naming of various kings, queens and duchesses representing local organizations. Two of the highest profile Fiesta royalty titles are King Antonio, the official king of Fiesta and El Rey Feo, or the “people’s king.” Both kings reign for a year, raising money for their respective non-profit organizations and serving as a local celebrity, visiting area schools and community events. In addition, there are numerous other Fiesta royalty titles that are bestowed on individuals each year. You can learn more about those here.
During Fiesta, businesses, organizations and individuals create Fiesta medals to trade and collect during the celebration. The medals are often worn across the body on a sash (see photo below). Although the origin of the Fiesta medal is debated, Leon Childers is largely credited with being the creator of this unique tradition. In the 1970’s, Childers was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, stationed at Ft. Sam Houston. He was looking for a way to generate camaraderie with the public during Fiesta events, and remembering how much enthusiasm medals gave to his military unit, he created the pins based on the design of military medals. The tradition has carried to today. In addition to Fiesta medals, ladies often wear elaborately decorated colored hats and many people wear brightly colored (read: loud) clothing to Fiesta events.
Mission Solar Energy and many of our friends have created Fiesta medals for 2017. Check them out!