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Fiesta has evolved; now might be the year try something new

We hear it all the time from San Antonians who choose not to take part in our city’s yearly celebration of food, fun and parades. The thought of driving downtown for the opportunity of paying $20 for parking and twice as much for dinner and drinks with 6,000 of their closest friends is just a little too much for locals who have been burned by Fiesta.

I can stay home, they’ll tell you, and watch the parade on TV from my air-conditioned living room — adding that they don’t have to wait in line at the port-a-potty!

For some, it was a bad Battle of Flowers sunburn that singed their spirit. Perhaps it was a particularly sloshy La Semana Alegre outing that left them tired and broke long past the next morning. Maybe a mistake involving a 10-pound lawn-chair-and-cooler combo that seemed like a really good idea before it had to be carried for 12 blocks. One guy I know stepped on a discarded sausage-on-a-stick during mid-Charanga in Maverick Plaza and ended up on the floor, patas pa’arriba.

We’ve been Fiesta-ing a long time, and at a party this big that has gone on this long, a lot of mistakes are made.

But as time goes on, we learn. Es mas, everything changes, even the way we party.

It used to be that San Antonio’s yearly fiesta was a downtown thing that involved carnival rides and lots of plastic cups. Now, things are different. There are Fiesta events all over town for partiers of every level, many of which don’t require that party goers carry anything heavier than a little bit of folding money.

This year, things are really shifting because of the post-pandemic adjustments. Several events, including the big parades, were canceled. Others have scaled back, limiting the number of participants. Wristbands will replace tickets, and the breezy April nights of Fiesta will be replaced by the balmy nights of mid-June, which hopefully won’t be too sweaty. Partiers will need to gear up in cooler clothes and an open mind.

This Fiesta might also be a good time to switch Fiesta gears. Maybe it’s time to try a Saturday morning 5K walk instead of the usual Fiesta fried-food-and-funnel cake throwdown. Fiesta de Animales at the San Antonio Zoo might have something different to offer those who usually stick to the Ferris wheel. There are new community events, such as Chanclas y Cervezas at the Greenline linear park at Brooks, that might give San Antonians a chance to enjoy a little Fiesta closer to home without having to head downtown.

The parades will be back someday. Until then, there’s no reason to give up on Fiesta.

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