SAN ANTONIO — April is host to, arguably, the most popular festival in the Alamo City — Fiesta.
- Fiesta runs April 19-29 this year
The streets are filled with music, confetti and celebrations galore. The festivities bring in nearly $340 million for the city and features events, concerts, parades and more. Funds raised by official Fiesta events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.
Do you know the history behind the most celebrated San Antonio holiday of the year?
It started with the Battle of San Jacinto
It started as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.
According to Fiesta San Antonio organizers, in 1891, a group of ladies decorated horse-drawn carriages, paraded in front of the Alamo and pelted each other with flower blossoms. The parade was organized to honor the heroes from the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto and is formerly known as The Battle of Flowers Parade. Within a few years, more events were taking place on or near April 21 including a carnival, balls and coronations.
Fiesta has taken place every year except for 1918 during World War I and 1942 through 1945.
Since 1959, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission has reinvigorated the celebration, planning activities for 100 local nonprofit organizations and the more than 75,000 volunteers.
What about the medals?
According to Texas Public Radio, Fiesta medal history dates back to 1946, when the Texas Cavaliers created little coins to take to hospitalized children.
"They had special coins — the king’s coin — and they’re just little half-dollar sized coins. But in 1961 Joske’s department store provided the Cavaliers with a little cardboard piece that had a punch-out in the center where you could insert the coin. And then it apparently had a hole in the top of it where ribbons could be inserted through those. And so you could then hang this around your neck. After 1971 a few other Fiesta organizations started producing Fiesta medals, but it was not a "thing" at all,” cultural anthropologist Michaele Haynes said in the interview.
So if medals weren't a thing, who exactly made them such a Fiesta phenomenon? Queue a German connection.
“It was Lt. Col. Childers, was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston,” Haynes said.
Childers was looking for a way to generate camaraderie with the public and came up with the idea of making a Fiesta-themed, military-looking medal for the general to hand out during events. It was a hit!
The rest is history!