The festival began in 1891, when local women decorated carriages, baby buggies and bicycles with live flowers, met in front of the Alamo, and threw the blossoms at one another in the first Battle of Flowers Parade. The celebration’s name changed over the years from Carnival to Spring Carnival to Fiesta San Jacinto and, in 1960, to Fiesta San Antonio.
Today the River Parade is one of the few in the nation in which the floats really do float. About 250,000 people line the banks to enjoy the event.
Fiesta is San Antonio’s biggest festival, with an economic impact of $284 million for the city.
For years King Antonio had no set tradition for his official arrival at Fiesta. When the Works Progress Administration completed improvements to the San Antonio River in 1941, the Cavaliers decided to introduce the king in a river parade—the first event to take place on the river after the improvements.