Saturday, April 24, 2010

Viva Fiesta!

I love San Antonio. It's quiet demeanor gives the impression that San Antonio is a small town, so most people are surprised to learn that the Alamo City is the seventh largest city in the nation (and is bigger than Dallas, which ranks ninth). It is this small-town ambience that holds my heart and brings me home every weekend after working in Austin during the week.

Every spring in April, the city throws its sombrero in the air and invites the world to Fiesta, a ten-day party that celebrates its multi-ethnic heritage with four major parades (drawing up to 500.000 parade-goers to each parade), a carnival, oyster bake, concerts, art shows, royalty to name just a few events.

Not every event is huge, and today my daughter, granddaughters and I enjoyed one of the smaller neighborhood events--the King William Fair. King William is a neighborhood just south of downtown. The neighborhood was first settled in the 1840s by German immigrants (at that time, one-third of the San Antonio population spoke German). The area is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cross St. Mary's Street, and you arrive in the area known as Southtown where the homes are not as opulent, but I think equally as beautiful.

The house above belongs to author Sandra Cisneros. She caused quite a stink in the neighborhood when she painted her house such bright colors. She finally won the argument and the neighborhood, I believe, is better for it.

The three homes shown above are examples of the Victorian-inspired architecture in the neighborhood.

The fair kicked off with a parade. Now, this is not one of the "big" parades, like the Battle of Flowers or Fiesta Flambeau, but it is big in spirit. Dance school tots, community non-profits, and pooches in Fiesta finery wowed the crowd. The parade queens took the opportunity to poke fun at the "real" Fiesta royalty.

We trekked to the fair proper at the conclusion of the parade. Homes along the route were dressed in Fiesta finery--papel picado (cut paper banners) and huge wreaths adorned with traditional Mexican crepe-paper flowers with flowing ribbons that fluttered in the wind. Families gathered in their front yards welcoming Fiesta visitors to their neighborhood, all the while celebrating Fiesta with barbeque, cascarones (confetti-filled eggshells that are cracked over heads), aquas frescas (fruit drinks, such as lemonade, strawberry, or watermelon), and music.

Mini-papel picado on sticks!

Traditonal papel picado--notice "Fiesta" cutwork on each banner.

We made our way to the children's area, where the girls had their faces painted and made pleated-paper butterflies (a free event thanks to the area Rotary club). The day was beautiful and we had a lot of fun. Viva Fiesta and we will see you next year!

My daughter Kim and granddaughter Gracie (my Etsy store namesake).

My little sweetie, Summer with cascarones confetti in her hair.

Gracie and Summer admire shiny papel picado decorating a fence along the parade route.


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