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Arts & Culture

Fiesta 2022: Revelers savor final moments, make lasting memories

Crowds enjoying the last weekend of Fiesta basked under a warm sun and mostly clear skies.

It was the first Fiesta during the coronavirus pandemic to follow its normal schedule.

The 2020 Fiesta was canceled. 2021's Fiesta was pushed back to June, coinciding with Juneteenth, Pride Month and Father's Day. 2021 also saw a scaled back Fiesta -- several events were canceled, including Battle of Flowers Parade, King William Fair and the Oyster Bake.

But in 2022, Fiesta was back. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out over the past several days to enjoy the festivities during comfortable and dry weather.

On Thursday, Megan Vargas and her family visited La Villita to celebrate a Night in Old San Antonio, or NIOSA.

"We come every year," she explained. "We're of Hispanic heritage, and so it's really fun to see everyone celebrate that to just round up as a city, too."

On Friday, the City of San Antonio closed several city offices and services for Battle of Flowers, which celebrates those who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, as well as at the Alamo and at Goliad. The celebration is one of the oldest and largest parades in the country.

Evelyn Landin was in the crowd. She said the event was a family tradition for her.

“My grandfather years ago used to come early to save us a spot," she said, "and we always came with him, and all the cousins used to come. And now we’re doing it. Our grandchildren are really small right now but eventually they will be coming with us.”

Landin added that she treasures Fiesta because of the joy it brings to the community. She also had some advice for residents who have just moved to San Antonio.

“I know it's crowded but it’s all worth it," Landin said. "They need to just come and experience it.”

On Saturday, thousands of people enjoyed the King William Fair, the Battle of Flowers Band Festival, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.

Lisa Craig attended the Flambeau Parade and was impressed. "It's just an incredible display of Fiesta (and of) coming together to celebrate San Antonio and all that it is," she said. "It's just a wonderful way to round out all the Fiesta events."

The parade also saw a special guest: Gen. Charles Quinton Brown Jr., the U.S. Air Force chief of staff.

Brown, who grew up in San Antonio and became the branch's top officer in 2020, spent the weekend visiting basic training recruits and military training instructors, touring Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland and discussing issues with civic leaders.

Brown said he was impressed that instructors and trainees seemed more focused on resiliency in the wake of the pandemic.

"One aspect of our leadership qualities is emotional intelligence," he said. "And truly, how do you have that empathy as leaders? And that, to me, has been a key part. It's changed within (basic military training) because you think about what the young people that are coming to Air Force what they've had to deal with over the course of the past couple years, and really, for all of us."

The Air Force was the only military branch that didn’t shut down its training pipeline due to COVID-19.

Brown then spent some time learning about and then enjoying Fiesta.

"One, it’s celebrating the history of San Antonio in Texas," he said, explaining what he learned of the event's significance. "The Battle of the Flowers parade, to me was really part of that. But it’s something I learned today is the amount of work that's done by the various organizations throughout San Antonio, and what they do to give back to the community."

Brown then appeared in Saturday’s Flambeau parade.

Sunday's festivities were scheduled to wrap up by 11 p.m., with the end of the Fiesta Artisan Show, Deco Fiesta, Fiesta De Los Reyes at Market Square and the Carnival at the Alamodome.

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