It doesn’t get any closer to home than this post, featuring the wonderful city where we live and where all Susan Shaw jewelry is made: San Antonio, Texas. This time of year, the city of San Antonio is gearing up for our biggest city-wide celebration, Fiesta! For those who don’t know what this is, many equate it to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It is a 2-week celebration starting the 3rd weekend in April, centered around the memory of the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, where Texas won it’s independence from Mexico. In 1891, a group of San Antonio citizens threw the first Battle of Flowers Parade, where they decorated carriages and threw flowers in front of the Alamo to honor the soldiers who fought there 25 years before. Over 125 years later, the Battle of Flowers parade is the signature event of Fiesta San Antonio, but there are now over 100 official events that occur all over the city throughout the 2 week celebration. We will highlight some of our favorites as well as showcase some bright and festive jewelry that is perfect for this time of year.
The first weekend of Fiesta kicks of with a grand party in Hemisfair Park in downtown. “Fiesta Fiesta” kicks off with a Fireworks display, Cascarones (a.k.a. confetti eggs), and a crowd-wide chant of “Viva Fiesta!” Its a great way to set the mood of the city.What would a festival be without it’s kings and queens? Fiesta San Antonio has royalty representing many different city organizations. “King Antonio” is crowned each year from the Texas Cavaliers Association- a nonprofit organization that raises money for children’s charities around the city. Their fundraising effort, mainly from the Fiesta River Parade they put on, raises over $300,000 per year for these charities. El Rey Feo (Spanish for the “ugly king”) is also a major fundraiser for the city. Each year, two prominent businessmen are chosen to compete for this title. The candidate who raises the most money during the months of May – October is declared next year’s Rey Feo. Each candidate must raise a minimum of $200,000 to qualify with more then 85% of the money raised is spent directly on scholarship awards benefiting San Antonio area youth.
As is tradition in many southern cities, debutantes are presented each year, and Fiesta is the perfect time for this in San Antonio. The Order of the Alamo is an organization which provides opportunity for these 22-year-old girls to represent themselves in the spotlight of the community. The Order of the Alamo elects the Queen and Princess of Fiesta each year along with 15-25 Duchesses. It is very well known for the intricate dresses and trains the girls wear. It take over a year to design and sew on all the crystals-and they weigh up to 90 pounds!
Each year the court has a different theme, with each dress representing something under that theme. In 2015, it was the Court of the Captivating Islands and the dress below represented the “Pearl of the Orient” with this Ming Dynasty blue and white porcelain jar motif. Isn’t it to die for?? We always look forward to seeing the artistry and creativity in the dresses each year.
All the royalty of Fiesta carry their special medals each year to hand out as they make their way around the city in parades and school visits. Businesses also each have their own medals, typically for sale and benefitting a local charity of their choice.
Many people love to collect all these special medals each year, to the point where many need special sashes or vests to accommodate all their medals.There is no shortage of parades during Fiesta. The main ones are the Battle of Flowers Parade (original Fiesta event), The River Parade and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. The Battle of Flowers Parade has come a long way from the original decorated carriages in front of the Alamo. The extravagant floats have multiplied and are more beautiful every year. The Battle of Flowers Parade is now the 2nd largest day parade in the U.S., second only to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA. It is also the only parade in the country to be put on by a committee of all women volunteers. People have been known to start camping out along the coveted spots of Broadway Street over a week in advance of the Battle of Flowers parade just to secure their seats!
All the Fiesta Royalty rides in the parade, including the Order of the Alamo duchesses pictured below. Years ago a rumor started that the girls in these extravagant gowns were wearing sneakers or flip flops under their dresses for comfort since no one could see. It became a thing and parade spectators would call out, “Show me your Shoes!” Now the girls put lots of thought into what they wear on their feet, sometimes decorating their comfy shoes to match their dress. You can see one of the duchesses below showing off her cowboy boots!Early in the week the Texas Cavaliers put on the River Parade, where barges are turned into floats for organizations, bands, and (you guessed it) more royalty! Below you can see King Antonio’s float going down the San Antonio River and shooting streamers into the air!
Another fan favorite is the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. It takes place after dark toward the end of Fiesta and all the floats and costumes light up or glow in the dark, making for a beautiful night scene.
In addition to parades, Fiesta brings festivals of many types as well. The largest one, which goes on almost every evening during Fiesta is called NIOSA (standing for Night in Old San Antonio). It takes place in the heart of downtown in La Villita, which was the first neighborhood in the city and is full of preserved buildings and old homes, now mostly all converted into businesses. La Villita transforms during NIOSA to a worldly festival, with booths representing different countries and selling foods of different cultures. Here in La Villita you can find one of our retailers, Bird & Pear boutique. Bird & Pear is known for cultivating a collection of handmade goods, many made by the owner herself. With Susan’s jewelry being handmade not 5 miles from here, it was a great fit for us to be sold alongside her beautiful wares. If you’re visiting for Fiesta, stop by to pick up a hand sewn medal sash to show off the medals you accumulate or a coozie for your drink made from an embroidered Mexican dress! And don’t forget to check out our jewelry while you’re there!!
Bird & Pear
418 Villita Street • Building 10 • San Antonio, TX 78205 • 210.263.9969
During Fiesta the whole city is in bright colors! From the wreaths and decorations to the clothing and jewelry worn by the people, it is truly a beautiful sight! No matter what your Fiesta look is, we have the perfect jewelry to accent it! These new cluster earrings below come in many bright colors and are lightweight despite being a bigger statement earring.Back in the 80’s Susan designed clothing for local shops to sell during Fiesta. She did the artwork in the photo below and it was hand sewn into skirts by local artisans.Tassels are such a fun was to show your festive side- whether you are heading to Fiesta or any party this spring! We have some new styles and some new colors for 2018 below! Our genuine turquoise pieces are sought after in the southwest and all over the country for their upscale look. Pair them with gold to dress it up or our teal tassels for a more casual and fun look. They are a perfect addition to your Fiesta style!We hope you get a chance to come visit our fabulous city someday and even better to get to enjoy this festive time of year!! For more information about all the Fiesta events you can visit Fiesta-SA.org.
As we say this time of year here in San Antonio,
Susan Shaw Jewelry
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