Parade Judge - Fiesta 2010
(Sweet husband invited to hold umbrella.)
Smiles and laughter, music, colorful sombreros, princess tiaras- what started out as a single parade to honor the fallen heroes of the Battle of The Alamo and commemorates the victory of San Jacinto has become a 10-day, city-wide event that you don't want to miss. Fiesta San Antonio, or Fiesta for short, attracts 3 million people annually and provides hundreds of different events all over the city. Still an integral part of the festivities, The Battle of the Flowers Association sponsors many events and scholarship contests, in addition to the Parade.
Six months ago, we were invited to experience this grand event and Judge. We had no idea what we would Judge but we said, "Yes!". Spring came, and we received a welcome letter then later a wealth of information as to what we were to do and what we were to experience. We were selected to Judge the carriages in the Parade.I packed my vintage summer evening dress for the party at the Botanical Garden, Petit Bateau tee shirt dress (from Indulge), favorite straw hat (for the anticipated heat), and sun glasses for judging, and drove three hours to San Antonio with my husband.
The city welcomed us with banners and flags of Fiesta colors of green, purple, pink, yellow, and orange on the front of homes and buildings. The spirit and gaiety... were everywhere...The first event we attended was the Botanical Garden party on Thursday night. On arrival at the gate of the garden party, we were given badges. At one time, only the King gave coins, but now the different groups involved in the festival give ribbon-badges to all. Just a friendly Hello, and you are given a badge... What fun, what folly!! Just a smile, and you become a part of the Royal Court. Friday morning, we were bused to orientation, to the carriage judging site to select first, second, and third places. It was not an easy job, as I felt like a butterfly trying to land on the most beautiful flower. They were glorious. The flowers TO MY SURPRISE were NOT REAL but like the flowers at Indulge- you have to touch to really know. Off to the Alamo, and a delicious picnic lunch hosted by The Battle of the Flowers Assoc. (a civic, non-profit, all-women's organization whose purpose is patriotic and education to teach the history of our state to keep alive the traditions of Texas). The ladies of the association were dressed in yellow, with sunshine yellow hats (a page out of the book by H.A. Ray, Curious George and the man wearing a yellow hat).
We were pampered, fed, fanned, watered, and now ready for the scorching heat (the city Fire Department is equipped with everything from IV's to defibrillators on their mountain bikes as the 87-degree heat was ever present). And now we were on the bleachers, and the parade began.Charros demonstrated roping on top of horseback, bands and more bands, horses and more horses, but saved by the bucket brigade- the A&M sophomore cleaners crew that followed the horses received the most appreciative applause... What an unpleasant job... but they all grinned and you could almost hear them "whistle while they worked".
And then what we have all been waiting for... The King, The Queen, and the Duchesses in all their splendor. The floats are magical and dresses caped with long trains of silk and brocade and each beaded with a celestial glow... unbelievably elegant. (Every year, there is a new theme for this grand court, and this year the theme is Famous Jewelers). Queen of the Court of Dazzling Adornments: Van Cleef & Arpel, Harry Winston, Cartier, and many more. 26 gowns- all made by local women from San Antonio.
Unlike Cinderella, these magnificent gowns are not created with a wand. Two or three years in advance, a Mistress of the Robes is selected. The theme is carefully chosen with research and imagination. It is a surprise to all when the theme is announced. The court is invited into a room and assigned the dress designed uniquely for them. There are five or six women that are on the dressmaking staff. These ladies are so devoted and committed to the Battle of the Flowers Parade that this becomes their profession for ten to fifteen years. It is amazing the number of hours, skill, talent, tenacity, and heart required to create these works of art.
The Princess on her Float
Duchesses adorned in the images of a few of our favorite jewelers:
Van Cleef & Arpels Harry Winston
CartierCan you imagine trying to walk in these heavily jeweled gowns? Tennis shoes were worn originally, but twenty years ago things changed... now the crowd yells, "Show your shoes!" and out pops handsome one of a kind cowboy boots! I will end this fairy tale with Saturday morning and the Pooch Parade... 15,000 decorated dogs marching down neighborhood streets... fluffed and groomed with costumes that could qualify for the Chinese Circus.
How appropriate that "man's best friend" should end this parade. Thousands of people lined downtown streets to watch The Battle of the Flowers Parade... Americans at their best, and San Antonio will be looking forward to seeing you next year!