Flower maker for Battle of Flowers Parade set to retire this year

Rose García began working for the Battle of Flowers Association in the 70s

Rose García is the head flower maker for the parade. This year marks her 52nd work anniversary with the Battle of Flowers Association in 2022.

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of crepe paper flowers adorn the more than 20 floats in the Battle of Flowers Parade, with each flower matching the theme and gowns of the Order of the Alamo.

Behind all the paper flowers are hands of strong women, culture, history and pride.

Rose García is the head flower maker for the parade. This year marks her 52nd work anniversary with the Battle of Flowers Association in 2022.

“My mamá, she was an employee just like the rest of my cousins and aunts,” García said. “She taught me and some of the other nieces and cousins how to make flowers.”

According to the Battle of Flowers Association, Cora Watson hired Garcia’s mother, Genevieve Loera, in 1928. Watson was the head flower maker and was impressed with Loera’s work at the young age of 13.

García grew up around the flowers, but it wasn’t until high school that she joined her mom and other flower makers.

“We’d come and pick her up (at the warehouse), but that’s about it. We wouldn’t come in the building,” García said. That was in the 70s. “Once I graduated, I came with her and I met Cora Watson. She was the boss of all the girls.”

Watson invited García to come learn how to make flowers.

“I said, ‘Yes, whether you pay me or not, you know, I want to come in.’ So, my mother started teaching me how to how to make the flowers and stuck around for that year,” García said.

The next year she came back again to make flowers next to her mom.

“I picked it up,” García said. “Then the following year, she hired me. I liked to work and stayed here since then. Since (the) 70s and then in (1990), I was hired to be their boss. It was totally different, even though they were family. I had to learn how to do the books, how to order the paper, work with the ladies… but you learn a little bit as you go.”

52 years later, García can fill a box with paper blooms in minutes and likely with her eyes closed.

“I (can talk) to you, and I’m making the flower (as I go),” García said.

She has fond memories of the flower-making season that usually begins in February. Her cousins and nieces form an assembly line and watch novelas as they quickly fold the crepe paper, twist the bottom center, wrap the stem and give life to bouquets.

García is confident anyone can pick up on the skill after a couple of days and insists the flowers don’t have to be perfect or the same size.

It takes hundreds of hours and crepe paper to make the flowers on board the Battle of Flowers floats (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

“The float is going by so fast, you’re not going to be looking at details,” García said. “You got too much things to look at. You’re going to look at the props, the girls that are riding on the float, you’re looking at their boots or shoes, their beautiful crowns, the beautiful jewels on those trains that you’re not going to pay attention (at every flower).”

García takes great pride in her work and passing it on to the younger generations in her family.

“(People think) they come from a company already handmade,” García said. “We (make them) one by one, one float at a time. I work on 10 court floats, then your princess and your queen, that’s 12 (floats). They have nine school floats that you’re working on. Then you’re working on your grand marshal, your dignitary float.”

The Battle of Flowers Parade ¡VIVA LAS FLORES! features nine public school floats with the theme “Global Gardens.”

Behind all the paper flowers are hands of strong women, culture, history and pride. (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

This year’s parade is even more special for García as she is set to retire.

“I’m already in my 70s, so I think it’s time for me to let somebody else walk in and start,” García said.

It is still unclear who will take over García’s role for the 2023 Battle of Flowers Parade, but she won’t be fully out of the picture.

“‘ll be coming around to check on them,” García said.

She’ll get to close her chapter as the head flower maker on Friday morning during the Battle of Flowers Parade surrounded by the very same flowers she made. García will have her own float.

“It has been an honor. Our family members in the past that have walked through these doors, did it and retired, never has any one of them, not even our bosses before me. Cora Watson or Francis rode on a float. I get to do it. I’ll be the first.”

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About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.