Let’s make Fiesta a healthier celebration


As 2,200 cyclists set off from UTSA’s main campus Sunday morning to pedal the steep slopes of nearby Hill Country in the first L’Etape San Antonio, consider the benefits of making every day of Fiesta a day of wholesome community recreation. .

I’m not advocating the cancellation of parties or other traditions, I just want to see healthy alternatives added to the mix.

The first-ever Tour de France-affiliated Sunday cycling event in the United States is the centerpiece of this year’s Fiesta FitFest, three days of organized outdoor activities created by San Antonio Sports to put a healthier face on Fiesta. This is FitFest’s first year as an official Fiesta event. With sufficient support from city government and local sponsors, it could serve as the basis for an expanded FitFest as part of Fiesta’s daily lineup.

Fiesta could be made more appealing to out-of-town visitors, who might not be drawn to the days and nights of social gatherings, parties and parades fueled by endless amounts of beer and junk food. Watch how many people travel to San Antonio for the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

I enjoyed that column of the week by JJ Velasquez, Viva Fiesta: San Antonio’s flagship event is the soul missing from Austin’s SXSW. I agree with the “soul” part, but I would add that it’s the “body” part of Fiesta that requires our attention.

San Antonio has one of the highest adult and teen obesity rates in the nation. Fiesta does nothing to fix this problem, and I would say This makes a lot to perpetuate it.

We can still have fun and rejoice and, at the same time time, infuse the 11-day festival with wholesome outdoor recreational options that showcase the city’s large linear park along the San Antonio River, its urban amenities and ever-growing network of green trails.

Cyclists ride north on the Salado Creek Greenway linear trail near the 1604 loop and Shavano Park. Credit: Scott Ball/San Antonio Report

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg might very well be the fittest leader of any major American city. Imagine a 5K Mayor’s Walk Down Broadway from the Witte Museum to Hemisfair led by Nirenberg, with challenges for other Texas mayors to participate in the first-ever City Stride.

The coming years could take the mayor and walkers into Mission Reach, around Hardberger Park, southeast of Brooks, or various other parts of the city.

A third Síclovía could be added to the Fiesta week.

Free yoga classes could be added daily in city parks, helping to liven up these all-too-often-seated green spaces underused. There is no shortage of wonderful instructors who could be hired to make this happen. Alternate training options could be included.

On a recent visit to Mexico City, I was struck by the weekend activities at Parque México, visible from our short term rental. Several dance lessons were going on as we walked around. Young people under the age of 10 were learning to skateboard. The elderly participated in tai chi exercises.

One of the features of the park was an adult outdoor gym circuit occupied by people of all ages hanging from pull-up bars, doing sit-ups, core work and stretching. A short distance away, dog trainers led canine groups through various commands.

Sounds like any San Antonio park you frequent? Our network of parks badly needs more programming. FitFest could be a catalyst for more activities throughout the year and the right infrastructure to support these activities.

On April 2, Urban-15 – the music, movement and media arts collective – hosted Incognito, an illuminated nighttime bike ride and masquerade, at Lake Elmendorf, in the heart of the West Side. I missed the event due to other work obligations, but I’m sure it was a delightful addition to Fiesta, one that deserves the city’s support and could be expanded under the tutelage of its founder, George Cisneros.

There’s the optional disguised 5k run which signals the imminent start of the nightly Fiesta Flambeau Parade and serves as a fundraiser for Spurs Give. It’s quite an experience to run through a tunnel of thousands of excited people, some of us dressed as ourselves, others as fantasy characters.

Fiesta is all about the traditions, but Fiesta can also be so much more.

Healthy physical activity should be fun. It always feels good to participate in an organized sporting event, to cross a finish line. Let’s find new ways to do these things and build on Fiesta FitFest. It’s time to start.


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