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Historical photos show Fiesta parade floats as far back as 117 years ago

Fiesta parades have been a part of San Antonio’s history since the 1890s

Olive Ayres, former president of the Battle of Flowers Association, poses in her entry for the Parade. Her car is decorated with pond lilies and clusters of balloons. Photo taken April 20, 1917.
Olive Ayres, former president of the Battle of Flowers Association, poses in her entry for the Parade. Her car is decorated with pond lilies and clusters of balloons. Photo taken April 20, 1917. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)

SAN ANTONIO – With the cancellation of the Battle of Flowers and Fiesta Flambeau parades for the second year in a row, many may be feeling nostalgic for these beloved San Antonio traditions.

Thanks to the University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collection, we can view photos from Fiesta parades from past years and other Fiesta events, some dating as far back as 1904.

Fiesta officials confirmed Monday that the annual Fiesta “Party with a Purpose” would be postponed from April until June 17-27, with several events and parades canceled outright-- including the Battle of Flowers Parade.

Until last year, Fiesta had been celebrated every year since the late 1800s except 1918 during World War I and 1942-1945 during World War II, according to the Fiesta Commission.

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The first Battle of Flowers Parade took place in 1891 by a group of San Antonio citizens who were looking to honor the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.

"Save the Alamo" float, sponsored by Joske's, in Battle of Flowers Parade. Photograph shows children and attendants on parade float entered in Battle of Flowers Parade. Sign on side reads: "Save the Alamo." Two of the mules pulling float have blankets decorated with dates 1836 and 1904.  Photo circa 1904.
"Save the Alamo" float, sponsored by Joske's, in Battle of Flowers Parade. Photograph shows children and attendants on parade float entered in Battle of Flowers Parade. Sign on side reads: "Save the Alamo." Two of the mules pulling float have blankets decorated with dates 1836 and 1904. Photo circa 1904. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Lone Star Brewing Co.'s float in Trades Parade. Photograph shows the decorated, horse-drawn float in the parade, a Fiesta San Jacinto event. On the side of the wagon is the sign "Patronize Home Industry." Photo taken April 26, 1906.
Lone Star Brewing Co.'s float in Trades Parade. Photograph shows the decorated, horse-drawn float in the parade, a Fiesta San Jacinto event. On the side of the wagon is the sign "Patronize Home Industry." Photo taken April 26, 1906. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Photograph shows Battle of Flowers Parade on E. Houston Street. Looking southeast from Federal Building on Alamo Plaza; on right is Hugo & Schmeltzer Building (Alamo Long Barracks). Photo circa 1909.
Photograph shows Battle of Flowers Parade on E. Houston Street. Looking southeast from Federal Building on Alamo Plaza; on right is Hugo & Schmeltzer Building (Alamo Long Barracks). Photo circa 1909. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Belgian Gardeners float in Battle of Flowers Parade. Photograph shows Peet Calle driving the float decorated with vegetables. Photo taken in April 1910.
Belgian Gardeners float in Battle of Flowers Parade. Photograph shows Peet Calle driving the float decorated with vegetables. Photo taken in April 1910. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Photograph shows Alamo Plaza during the parade. View looking southwest from upper floor of Long Barrack ruins. Regina Beckmann "Princess Daffodil" is barely visible as she sits in sedan chair on the float. Photo taken April 21, 1911.
Photograph shows Alamo Plaza during the parade. View looking southwest from upper floor of Long Barrack ruins. Regina Beckmann "Princess Daffodil" is barely visible as she sits in sedan chair on the float. Photo taken April 21, 1911. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Photograph shows parade float with Regina Augusta Beckmann, Princess Daffodil in the Court of Carnival Flowers, seated in sedan chair. Photo taken April 21, 1911.
Photograph shows parade float with Regina Augusta Beckmann, Princess Daffodil in the Court of Carnival Flowers, seated in sedan chair. Photo taken April 21, 1911. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Battle of Flowers Parade (L-R): unidentified driver, Atlee B. Ayres, president of Fiesta Association, Texas Governor James E. Ferguson, Adjutant General Henry Hutchins, and Major General John J. Pershing. Photo taken April 20, 1917.
Battle of Flowers Parade (L-R): unidentified driver, Atlee B. Ayres, president of Fiesta Association, Texas Governor James E. Ferguson, Adjutant General Henry Hutchins, and Major General John J. Pershing. Photo taken April 20, 1917. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Parade float, Fiesta San Jacinto. Photograph shows parade float. On the left is Dorothy Hillje, Duchess of Abalone, Court of the Sea. Photo taken April 10, 1923.
Parade float, Fiesta San Jacinto. Photograph shows parade float. On the left is Dorothy Hillje, Duchess of Abalone, Court of the Sea. Photo taken April 10, 1923. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Mary de Zavala and Mattie Smith in their horse-drawn carriage decorated for the Battle of Flowers Parade. Undated photo.
Mary de Zavala and Mattie Smith in their horse-drawn carriage decorated for the Battle of Flowers Parade. Undated photo. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
A Fiesta parade float celebrating the Filipino community in San Antonio. Photo undated.
A Fiesta parade float celebrating the Filipino community in San Antonio. Photo undated. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
A Fiesta parade float from Pioneer Flour Mills. Undated photo.
A Fiesta parade float from Pioneer Flour Mills. Undated photo. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)

Looking to relive memories from a more recent Battle of Flowers parade? You can check out this slideshow or even watch a rebroadcast of the 2019 parade here.

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