The Texas Cavaliers River Parade
For years King Antonio had no set tradition for his official arrival at Fiesta. He used planes, trains and automobiles. When the Works Progress Administration completed improvements to the San Antonio River in 1941, the Cavaliers decided to introduce the king in a river parade—the first event to take place on the river after the improvements.
Today the River Parade is one of the few in the nation in which the floats really do float. About 250,000 people line the banks to enjoy the event.
El Rey Feo
The second king to reign over Fiesta is El Rey Feo, the “Ugly King.” This monarch comes from a medieval tradition in which peasants elected one of their own as king for a day. The first Rey Feo was crowned in 1947. He became an official part of Fiesta in 1980.
The LULAC Rey Feo Scholarship Committee sponsors El Rey Feo. Candidates for the title raise money that’s given to students for their college expenses.
The emergence of two Fiesta kings built a bridge between both of the city’s major cultures. Both kings visit hospitals, schools and nursing homes in addition to making their appearance at Fiesta events.
The Fiesta Flambeau Parade
The Fiesta Flambeau Parade began in 1948. The parade’s name comes from the French word for a candlestick or torch. In the event’s early years, four-man brigades marched between the other units, carrying torches on five-foot poles. Today Boy Scouts carry safety flares. All the floats in the Flambeau Parade are lighted.
Night in Old San Antonio
A Night in Old San Antonio, better known as NIOSA, joined Fiesta in 1948. The San Antonio Conservation Society sponsors NIOSA. The society works to save San Antonio buildings and maintain the city’s cultural heritage. It takes about 16,000 volunteers each year to stage NIOSA.
Other EventsFiesta has grown over the years to a 10-day celebration featuring some 100 events that feature music, food, sports, pageantry, military and patriotic observances, exhibits, and parades. Nonprofit organizations sponsor every activity. The festival has an economic impact of nearly $284 million on the city of San Antonio. Past Fiestas have featured regattas, synchronized swimming, polo matches, a hot-air balloon race, rifle competitions and bowling tournaments. Long-time traditions include:
- Cornyation, a raucous show lampooning San Antonio headlines and personalities.
- St. Mary’s Oyster Bake, two days of food (including 100,000 oysters) and live music on the St. Mary’s University campus. Oyster Bake has been a San Antonio tradition for more than 90 years.
- The Women’s Fiesta Soccer Tournament, an invitational tournament featuring top teams from around the nation.
Each year the Fiesta San Antonio Commission accepts several new nonprofit organizations as members sponsoring official Fiesta events.