City says parade campouts OK after warning of their end last year

Fiesta tradition continues now that landscaping project is done

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

Despite warnings that 2016 would be the last year for a popular, unofficial parade campout site, the city is giving the go-ahead to campers who are already staking out their spots.

Every year, San Antonians set up camp along the Broadway parade route, underneath Interstate 35 and Interstate 37 in order to get a good spot for the iconic Battle of Flowers and Fiesta Flambeau parades. However, signs warned campers last year that because of an upcoming "landscape enhancement project," it was the "last year for Fiesta setup."

The city now says the landscaping work, which was less expansive than was planned, is done, and campers are once again OK to set up their sites.

"There is future development underneath the highway that we're working on, but we understand the tradition of camping under the highway." said Jim Mery, the City Center Development & Operations deputy director.

That was good news to Albert Castillo, whose family has been camping out in the spot for the past 30 years.

"I mean, I was a little kid and my little ones are doing this," Castillo said. "So it's family tradition. Not only Fiesta, it goes with San Antonio."

The city has its caveats for campers. Any risers over 30 inches tall need to be built by licensed scaffolding professionals, and it wants people to respect the area and new landscaping. The city also wants campers to pick up their trash and coals properly.

That's no problem for Castillo and his family member, John Leos.

"We have all the kids that are out here and start picking everything up, you know? We use the tribe," Leos said.

The city said the tradition should be able to continue for years to come.

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