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"Fiesta San Antonio" (or simply "Fiesta") is an annual spring festival held in San Antonio, Texas, USA with origins dating to the late 19th century. The festival began as a single event to honor the memory of the battles of The Alamo and San Jacinto.
Fiesta is the city's biggest festival, and the city's signature event, with an economic impact of $284 million for the Alamo City. More than three million people take part in Fiesta. They can choose from more than 100 events that take place all over the city and beyond.
Fiesta dates to 1891, when local women decorated carriages, baby buggies and bicycles with live flowers, met in front of the Alamo, and threw the blossoms at one another. That was the first Battle of Flowers Parade. The event was a success and soon became an annual event. Soon other activities joined the flower parade—balls, parties and a carnival. The celebration's name changed over the years from Carnival to Spring Carnival to Fiesta San Jacinto and, in 1960, to Fiesta San Antonio.
The Battle of Flowers Parade Association began crowning a queen in 1895. In 1909 local businessman John Carrington established The Order of the Alamo with the purpose of crowning a queen, a princess and 24 duchesses, 12 from San Antonio and 12 from out of town. Coronations of local "royalty," a carnival and many other activities became the forerunners of today's Fiesta.
Today more than 100 local nonprofit groups, members of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission, stage more than 100 events over 17 days with the help of some 75,000 volunteers.
Fiesta events include three major parades—two along Broadway and past the Alamo, and one on the San Antonio River Walk, where the floats actually "float."
San Antonians and visitors can watch kings and queens being crowned—King Antonio, el Rey Feo or the Queen of The Order of the Alamo. They can attend receptions, parties, concerts and conferences.
Fiesta fans can try out Louisiana's cuisine at A Taste of New Orleans in Brackenridge Park, sample all kinds of oysters and other foods at St. Mary's University's Fiesta Oyster Bake, a major music (6 stages) and cultural event lasting 2 days, or enjoy the multicultural offerings of A Night in Old San Antonio, or NIOSA, a four-evening block party at La Villita in Downtown.
Fiesta in Blue is another annual event, featuring the USAF Band of the West. The event consists of two evening of concerts in Downtown San Antonio featuring classical, jazz, and rock/popular music.
Musical options include Tejano, jazz, Mariachi, Rock, Big Band, classical, and traditional radio-friendly pop. History buffs can remember the Alamo at the Pilgrimage to the Alamo or This Hallowed Ground. Sporting events include races, soccer, rugby and lacrosse. Cornyation, a satirical musical review, is another popular event, but for adults only.
Pins and medals in every color of the rainbow have become an established Fiesta tradition. Residents and visitors can get the souvenirs from various dignitaries or members of Fiesta royalty.
The Battle of Flowers Parade is the oldest event and largest parade of Fiesta San Antonio, attracting crowds of more than 350,000 on the second Friday of Fiesta. It is the only parade in the United States produced entirely by women, all of whom are volunteers. These ladies, dressed on parade day in yellow and wearing yellow hats, direct operations with the assistance of the Army National Guard. Several school districts within San Antonio treat the day of the Battle of Flowers as a local holiday and subsequently don't have classes on that day.
As a present-day event, The Fiesta Flambeau Parade starts as the sun goes down on the second Saturday of the festival. The parade, dating from 1948, is illuminated by thousands of lights on the floats, dancers, horses, cars and even the band instruments. An estimated crowd of 600,000 filled the parade route to watch The Fiesta Flambeau Parade 2011.(KLRN TV)
Overseeing this massive effort is a single nonprofit organization—the Fiesta San Antonio Commission. The sponsoring organizations must meet the commission's criteria before receiving approval and being invited to join.
The commission is governed by an all-volunteer board of community leaders and representatives from its nonprofit participating member organizations. This dedicated group works year 'round, coordinating the thousands of details and day-to-day tasks essential to plan this huge citywide event.
The commission also serves as a liaison between those nonprofit members, local military activities, and the City of San Antonio. City services are essential to the conduct of Fiesta.
The Fiesta Commission returns more than $1 million to the community each year.
The commission receives no government funding. Its income comes from corporate partnerships, sales in The Fiesta Store, membership dues and proceeds from the Fiesta Carnival.
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