Can you participate in Fiesta if you hate crowds? It doesn’t even seem possible. But I’m here to tell you: it is! I’ve lived in San Antonio for seven years and just went to my first official Fiesta event last year. This year, I’ve made more of an effort to participate, but the thought of so many people can be really overwhelming. Every Fiesta picture I see looks like someone cracked a people-filled cascarón all over downtown. With two young children—one on the autism spectrum—and an introverted husband, we usually skip the whole thing.
Here’s seven tips to making Fiesta less overwhelming:
1. Make a plan. There are some duplicate events. Check the Fiesta website and pick the date and time that are most likely to have the least amount of people. Decide where you’ll park before heading downtown. You can use the municipal parking map to figure out parking closest to your event. Don’t forget: having a plan includes planning downtime. Make sure you don’t commit to back-to-back events so you don’t end up burned out.
2. Consult the experts. I’m not a San Antonio native, so the thought of trying to go to any Fiesta event makes me nervous. I consulted many of the lovely born-and-raised San Antonio natives from the Alamo City Moms Blog team on which events are their favorites, which are best for kids, and which to avoid. Their tips have been a lifesaver!
3. Get there early. Per the advice of the natives, I plan to leave about an hour before the gates open to any event, to give myself time to park, walk and be one of the first people in. By the time I’ve made my rounds, most people are just getting there.
4. Just say “no.” A lot of the parades are televised, so don’t be afraid to skip them. Prioritize and decide which events you’ll miss out on if you don’t experience them in person. Most of the time, you’ll get the best view of the floats from your couch.
5. Pick events based on location. Two of my favorite events have been Any Baby Can’s Fiesta®, which featured the 11th Annual Walk for Autism as well as a 5K, food, and live music, and the Fort Sam Houston Fiesta Ceremony & Fireworks Extravaganza. They’re both spread out over a huge area, so even though there are thousands of people, you’re never shoulder to shoulder with anyone, there are plenty of quiet corners, and if necessary, you can make a quick escape.
6. Bring protection. If the noise bothers you (and you’re going with another person), consider bringing ear plugs. Protect yourself from overwhelming situations by having a hand to hold or someone to lead you through the crowd.
7. Make your own Fiesta. When the thought of NIOSA was too much for my sons and me, we made a Fiesta wreath at home. We chucked cascarones at the fence. We felt like we were participating even though we weren’t there.