SAN ANTONIO – The Salvation Army's annual "Senior Fiesta" has music, dancing, food and people - everything required for a fiesta. The Fiesta San Antonio Commission, though, would prefer the nonprofit didn't call it that.
The commission claims the name, which the Salvation Army has used for the past 15 years, is unauthorized use of their "Fiesta" trademark. The commission sent a cease and desist letter, dated Oct. 6, which instructed organizer Irma Mellon to email back and confirm that the Salvation Army "will immediately cease further communication, promotion and representation of a Fiesta event to include 'Senior Fiesta.'"
"I wanted to cry," Mellon said of when she received the letter.
The Salvation Army's event is held during Fiesta and meant as an alternative to the overwhelming crowds of the big events for the invited seniors. Mellon said it is not a fundraiser for the Salvation Army and sponsors only pay for the event itself.
It does, however, share the same name as the official Fiesta event.
"I don't think it's fair that they forbid us to use the word 'fiesta,'" Mellon said. "The word 'senior,' I can agree with that."
The form cease and desist letter says the group is "clearly acting as a free rider."
"So does that mean that everybody who puts 'fiesta' on their medals is getting a free ride?," Mellon asked.
Mellon said the commission is picking on a big and vulnerable population. The letter has caused a bit of a scramble. They've had to put a hold on their fiesta medals so this year's don't say "Senior Fiesta"
What those medals will say instead is yet to be determined. The event's planning committee will discuss different name possibilities at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
A Salvation Army spokesman said some members of the committee may meet with the commission's executive director within the next week, as well.
Whatever the name ends up being, the event will still happen, and a fiesta will still be a fiesta by any other name.
KSAT 12 reached out to the Fiesta San Antonio Commission but did not hear back before air time.