Monday, March 18, 2013

A Parade of Barges

When I think of cities known for St. Patrick's Day Parades, I think of Boston, New York, and Chicago. San Antonio does not immediately come to mind. But as we watched the St. Patrick's Day River Parade, we began to learn about the role the Irish played in the history of this city.
However, I learned that "the Irish have played a significant role in the history of Texas since Spanish times, as soldiers and statesmen in the 1600s and as colonials under Mexican law in 1800s. They came as fighters at the Alamo (more than 140 Irish died at the Battle of the Alamo," according to the information in
But noted that "the Irish participated in all phases of Texas' war of independence against Mexico. Among those who died defending the Alamo in March 1836 were 12 who were Irish-born, while an additional 14 bore Irish surnames. About 100 Irish-born soldiers participated in the Battle of San Jacinto--about one-seventh of the total force of Texans in that conflict."

The memory of the sacrifices of the Irish was honored by trumpeters from the Central Catholic and Providence High School Mighty Button Band playing “Taps” in front of the Alamo at noon.

Then the scene shifted to the San Antonio River and the Arneson Theater along the River Walk and the mood shifted to a lighter, colorful celebration.

Even some of the food selections were of unusual colors.

The parade began with a barge carrying the colors and members of the Alzafar Highlanders.

Then came the Murphy's (one of the parade's sponsors) barge carrying bagpipers.

The crowd literally lined the sidewalk along the river. The risk here was very low--if anyone fell in the river they would only need to stand up and walk (in the 3-1/2 feet deep river) back to the sidewalk.

Then came a barge carrying the Inishfree Irish Dancers.

The next two barges carried the Beethoven Maennerchor members. This group's purpose is to preserve German song, music, and language. It is the one of the oldest German singing societies in Texas.

The woman wearing the banner had been recognized as the Irishman of the Year.

Members of the Mighty Button Band were in this barge. The band is made up of members of Providence High School (an all-girls school) and Central Catholic High School (all-boys school). Central Catholic's mascot is the Buttons, which are hard, round protrusions found anterior to the rattles of the rattlesnake.

The Gaelic Athletic Club is represented on this final barge. Some members are holding sticks used in hurling; the club also plays in the Texas Gaelic Football League.

A relatively short parade, but a very informative, colorful exposure to Irish culture.

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