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Barge into Fiesta with Monday night's Texas Cavaliers River Parade

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg waves at crowds of people lined up along the River Walk for the Texas Cavaliers Parade. | Jiawen Chen, Texas Public Radio
Jiawen Chen
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg waves at crowds of people lined up along the River Walk for the Texas Cavaliers Parade in 2021.

The Texas Cavaliers River Parade kicks of Monday April 4 at 7 p.m. Late last week the Cavaliers gave the media a preview of the ornate river barges you’ll see and in a place that few San Antonians have seen. Parade Marshall Gardner Peavy said it’s kind of a man-made grotto where the city’s river barges get parked overnight.

“We are down in what we call the old marina, and that's right below the international center,” Peavy said.

Jack Morgan
River barges await Monday's parade

He said a river parade of this size is an incredibly complex endeavor requiring a huge amount of people, all of whom are working in concert.

“We've been working nine months or longer than that, planning and out all those details. It's a well-oiled machine,” Peavy said.

Jack Morgan
Gardner Peavy speaks to the media

Tens of thousands of San Antonians will watch from the banks as several dozen over-sized barges chug through the downtown area.

“Fifty-six (barges). And we added some interesting ones this year,” he said. “Plus, we have these over-the-top decorations coming this year that we're excited about.”

Those decorations come from Barry Kern of Kern Studios and Mardi Gras World in New Orleans.

“And this theme this year is awesome because it's Texas al fresco, Texas outdoors,” Kern said.

Those who come can expect to see most anything you might see outside in Texas.

“An Alamo that we've created with special LED lights that will change colors and flags and old cannons. And you'll see Texas hunting, which will be a deer and a turkey and ducks,” Kern said. “Texas rodeos, Texas fishing, you got a giant redfish and catfish and all kinds of different things that you would experience here in Texas.”

Jack Morgan
Barge awaits Monday night's parade

There is an additional challenge nighttime parades face: making the floats look good in the dark. Kern said he’s got that covered.

“We've got bubble machines and smoke machines. Once we got all the lights on and at nighttime, it should be a beautiful parade,” he said.

Peavy reminded us that it’s not just pretty floats. Many of those barges will feature live music.

“Some of the great bands that come every year — the army band, some of these well established bands that people love to see. They'll be back,” Peavy said.

He also noted that the over-sized barges need something most barges don’t.

“They need two drivers. The front is the motor and the back is the tiller,” Peavy said.

The parade begins just east of the Southwest Crafts Center and continues through the horseshoe bend and to the Convention Center. Tickets are available at TexasCavaliers.org, though some free viewing is interspersed on bridges, and the parade is broadcast on KSAT.

Jack Morgan
Dolphins, zebras and elephants await the river parade
Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii