I Believe in Fiesta!
How shallow you say, what with all that beer and sausage on a stick. Fiesta is the ten day event where the word Gordita is onomatopoeic for how you look if you eat too many of them. Fiesta is a celebration of San Antonio’s history and heritage. It is kaleidoscope of over 100 events that utilizes 75,000 volunteers. The total revenue to the city is over 254 million dollars.
But enough of boring statistics, why believe in Fiesta? As a relative newcomer to San Antonio, I have lived in some of the world’s most sophisticated cities. I was surprised to find that San Antonio is in the top ten US cities by population. Why, because the strip malls close at seven and folks in restaurants offer me drink refills to go. People smile and say hello and they give me at least 3 seconds after the light turns green before they honk. I had the Greek booth last year at Night in Old San Antonio. That meant on top of my real job, I became like the Godfather and those four days became “some day I’m gonna ask you for a favor…” Every evening at 4:30 I donned my plastic laurel wreath and began to fry strips of meat and veggies while my family members and friends added the special sauce and took tickets. Sometimes we would sneak a jealous eye toward the next booth where they were relaxing in chairs waiting for that one in four hundredth person who drank ice tea. Several times during the evening we would draw straws to see who would risk life and limb to venture into the undulating crowd for supplies or beer not necessarily in that order. Finally, after the gates were closed and the last of the special sauce wiped from the grill, we congratulated ourselves on finishing another night. Today, nearly one year later we still talk about the fun we had. Every time I read about some new acquisition by the San Antonio Conservation Society, I think, that cost 2 beers and three hundred thirty gyros.
My job involves active participation in Fiesta in its entirety, so I truly have a fly on the wall perspective. Military and civilian, rich and poor, Fiesta crosses every social barrier. Fiesta runs the gamut from 80,000 dollar ball gowns to folks who make their yearly income from a booth selling food.
Fiesta is so much more than parades and partying. To me, fiesta is a showcase for what every town can aspire to; cooperation, commitment, cultural diversity, and countless hours of working toward a common goal.