San Antonio – Cookouts, Easter egg hunts, and cruising cars all returned to Brackenridge Park this Easter weekend, though the traditional crowd was lighter than normal.
It was a step back toward normalcy for many San Antonio families who had to completely forego their annual celebrations in the park last year in the early days of the pandemic, when the the City of San Antonio and Bexar County closed parks over Easter weekend.
Though the city and county kept Brackenridge and other parks open through the weekend this year, they once again did not allow residents to camp out - a big part of the annual tradition for many San Antonio families.
Still, parking was hard to come by at Brackenridge Park, as families grilled, played games, and hunted for eggs.
Members of the Cerna family, though, who have been celebrating Easter at Brackenridge for 66 years - 65, if you exclude 2020 - said the crowds seemed thinner than normal.
“I’ve never seen so many empty tables on a Sunday,” said Joshua Cerna.
Despite not being allowed to camp out, the family was able to snag its traditional spot. But Cerna said they’d normally have triple the number of people who were there Sunday.
“We’re missing a whole side of our family that just, you know, have decided the numbers were still too high,” he said. “But I would be - we’ve taken a family portrait out here, and we were about 150 of us.”
The changes in camping and attendance, though, meant it was easier for newcomers to partake in the San Antonio tradition.
Manning the grill at a spot near the Cerna family’s, Steven DeLaGarza said in previous years, “you couldn’t get nothing. It was always packed.”
Families camping on site to stake out their traditional spots used to make it difficult to find space, he said. This year, though, he was able to sleep in, go to the store to buy food, and still come out to grab a spot with his family in the afternoon.
“And now it’s - after COVID, it’s first-come, first-serve,” DeLaGarza said. “And everybody’s friendly. Everybody’s staying away from each other. But, for the most part, God risen, and thank God, you know? We’re here.”