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Arts & Culture

"Mission Accomplished" Party At The Alamo

Early Sunday morning UNESCO World Heritage Designation was awarded San Antonio’s five Missions. Tuesday morning, with most of the local delegation back from Bonn, Germany, dignitaries held a celebration downtown to revel in that victory.  A crowd of about a thousand gathered in sweltering Alamo Plaza. A long line snaked past the Cenotaph to get commemorative Cruz Ortiz screen print t-shirts and posters. County judge Nelson Wolff regaled the enthusiastic crowd.

“Mayor Taylor and I had a very exciting trip. It took us 20 hours to get back, but we made it!”   

He and Taylor went through a lengthy list of people, both prominent and behind the scenes, who made the designation possible. Here’s Father David Garcia on caring for the Missions.

“So the call to all of us is to always hold all of these things in a sacredness, with respect. As we have to respect all the environment that God gave us. These Missions are a gift from God.”

Native American Epifanio Hernandez blessed proceedings with a half-shell of burning substance. I asked him what it was, what it meant.

“White sage. White sage signifies cleansing, and a new beginning.” 

Hinted at in the speeches was an ad campaign to position the city’s newfound world heritage status. Mayor Ivy Taylor.

“We’ll be working with the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau on a marketing strategy to ensure that as many people as possible around the world know about this.”

The Chamber of Commerce’s Richard Perez agreed.

“So now it’s incumbent upon us to come together as a community, put that plan together and market it.  And we need to let the world know so they can come and experience the history and culture of San Antonio.”

Former Mayor Henry Cisneros added his long range perspective.

“But who we really have to thank is the original indigenous people and the Spanish Explorers who first said ‘we love this river. We’re going to build farms on it.’ And then in the same heat that we know now put stone-on-stone and cleared the ground and built those beautiful Missions. And that’s what justifies World Heritage.”

For more on the Missions status, go here

For more from the UNESCO site, go here