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Fiesta makes triumphant return

Fiesta made its triumphant return Thursday night in a showering of confetti to the delight of several thousand people at Hemisfair Park.

An ugly tie was cut and a few cascaronés were cracked signaling the start of San Antonio’s party with a purpose.

“It’s the largest cultural diversity festival in the country and it brings all different quadrants of our city together. There’s no other event like it in the United States,” said John Fristoe, president of the Fiesta Commission.

The last two years have been a struggle for the nonprofits who put on the events. The last time Fiesta had a hiatus was during World War II. 2020’s Fiesta was canceled due to the pandemic and 2021’s Fiesta was held in June but only had one-third of the events. Fristoe said the commission had to sell its long-standing building on Broadway.

“We were kind of thin on our own finances so we had to sell the building and we moved into some leased space to kind of get us through that rainy period," he said.

Every time you buy an event ticket or a chicken on a stick, you’re helping a nonprofit. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that money goes a long way.

“This is like nine digits in terms of economic impact,” Nirenberg said. "But more important are all the nonprofits that are participating member organizations or host parties that have real impact in terms of their service.”

But beyond the philanthropic aspect, it’s culture. Avi Avalos is known as Mr. Piñata, and dresses as a literally piñata covered in a white paper-mâché suit and hat. He said seeing the start of Fiesta so packed was energizing.

“Everybody has a fun-loving attitude," Avalos said. "And that’s what San Antonio is. It’s all fun loving people. It’s the best place, the best city in the country.”

If you feel like Fiesta started early this year, you’re right. That's because Easter falls in the middle of the month, and Fiesta began two weeks early to not compete with the holiday.

Fiesta runs until Sunday April 10 and the next 10 days will be filled with more than 100 events that benefit nonprofits across the city.

Related: How to VIVA FIESTA across San Antonio without losing your chanclas

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules