Recently I went in to YouTube see if there were any videos of the Battle of flowers parade on YouTube. I was able to get the 2018 and 2019 videos in its entirety. The cameras were on Alamo street close to the Alamo and panning all the way to the end of the island where we normally would be sitting to watch the parade. I was reminiscing to the time I first saw the parade when I was young.
Back then Fiesta would start with the River Parade and end with the Flambeau parade or Saturday night parade. The day parade would start on Broadway and end at the middle of Houston Street. So if you were watching it on Commerce when it ended, you could up to Houston street and continue to see the parade as it snakes its way up Houston Street. Later on it ended at Santa Rosa Street.
I remember as a youngster, that the carnival would be on Buena Vista and around City Hall. I liked to walk up and down the booth and play some games. I never won anything. I did get to see the Freak shows. I also started marching in the parade when I was a Boy Scout and we carried torches for the night parade. Each of us got a two-dollar bill for that night. I thought at first that we’ve got ripped off because I had never seen a two-dollar bill.
When I joined the Rifle drill team at Lanier, I didn’t expect to be marching again. WE were wearing khaki uniforms with brown shoes in the beginning of my time with the ROTC. Later we had to dye the shoes black. However, we wore combat boots for the drill team that also had to be dyed black. So, when we marched in the day and night parade we were looking good. All the way from Broadway to the end of the parade, we demonstrated our exhibition fancy drill. We were sweating halfway to the end. Afterwards those who wanted to stay at the carnival would give the rifles to the ROTC instructors and the rest went home. Not me, I stayed and had fun at the carnival. My last parade was in 1958.
As I was looking at my YouTube experience seeing the parade once again, I decided to see what other videos it had. I was surprised to see a video about the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Flowers parade shooting. It set me back in time when that happened.
I retired from the military on August 1978 and my family had never seen the parade in San Antonio because we were always away from home. So in 1979, we went to see the day parade. We went early to claim our seats close to the Menger Hotel. Everybody was excited and all the parade goers were waiting for the start of the parade. What we got was motorcycle police officers with their sirens on rushing back to where the parade started. The news filtered back to us that a shooting had occurred back on Broadway street where the parade started. I became afraid because that’s where my son Martin, and his cousins were setting up chairs for the Boys Club to raise funds.
I immediately took my wife and children back home and raced to where the incident was going on. I stopped on the freeway and looked down to see if I could find my kids. I went around the freeway to Broadway and parked nearby. By that time, it was over and I started to look for my kids. I saw blood on the street where the sniper had randomly shot several people before he was killed by a lone officer who managed to climb into the RV. I found out that the Boys Club manager had brought all the worker back home. I left the location and went to make sure my son was ok.
When we got together back home, they told me that prior to the shooting they had seen the RV driving into the parking area. Later, when the man started shooting everybody went down. They crawled to a building and got behind it. Some children were left behind by their parents in the middle of the chairs when they looked for cover, so my nephews went and rescued them and brought them back behind the building. One of the children seemed to be shot. They stayed there for about twenty minutes while the shooting was still going on.
Reliving this now made me want to talk to my son and nephews about it. When I called my son he said that he still remembers it very well. My nephew recalled it too and it was still fresh on his mind. They remembered that after it was over, they picked up left behind purses and they waited for the owners to come back and recover their purses.
In 1980 we went back to the same place we had the year before to watch the day parade. We were a little antsy hoping nothing will happen. We were satisfied when rows of motorcycle cops leading the parade with the van guard made up of drill teams coming our way.