Few traditions define San Antonio more than the city’s annual Fiesta celebration. The iconic San Antonio party, Fiesta started in 1891 when a group of lady conservationists organized a single parade with horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and a “battle of flowers” whereby they pelted each other with petals to salute the heroes of the Alamo.
Now, 125 years later, the 10-day celebration includes at least five parades and hundreds of other events over two weekends that generate millions in economic support for local nonprofit organizations as well as a springtime boost to the local economy. Just like butterflies, Fiesta has evolved.
One of Fiesta’s most beloved traditions is the sharing and exchange of Fiesta medals. Each year, businesses, nonprofits and government entities create a Fiesta medal to commemorate that year’s Fiesta. Some folks collect the keepsake trinkets, stashing them in jewelry boxes and display cases and/or wearing heavy medaled (literally) sashes decorated with the medaled pins. Several Facebook pages are devoted to the Fiesta medal fascination.
This year, at least four entities have issued Monarch butterfly and mariposa-themed medals. Why?
Because in December, Mayor Ivy Taylor signed the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Mayor’s Monarch Pledge making San Antonio the first and to date, ONLY Monarch Champion city in the country by agreeing to execute all 24 recommendations on the NWF’s action item list. Ever since, our city has gone a little butterfly crazy. And that’s a good thing.
As a result, the Mayor, the San Antonio River Authority, SAWS (San Antonio Water System, the local public water utility) and CPS Energy (the community owned electric and gas utility) all issued 2016 Fiesta medals with butterfly themes.
I’m having a hard time deciding which one is my favorite. You?
Below are the medals in the order in which I received them, with descriptions. Please take a look, and after reviewing, vote for your favorite at the end of this post. Comments welcome. We’ll share the winner via social media.
1. Mayor Ivy Taylor’s Fiesta Medal
Mayor Taylor graciously handed out these medals to all the volunteers at the San Antonio Zoo’s first annual Monarch butterfly Festival in March. The medal hangs from a happy aquamarine ribbon and shows the San Antonio skyline hovering over the Mayor’s name. Below, a Monarch butterfly with wings open rests above the words “Monarch Champion City.”
2. San Antonio River Authority 2016 Fiesta Medal
The San Antonio River Authority, a local agency known as SARA, oversees the San Antonio River watershed and the lauded nine-mile riparian restoration known as The Mission Reach. SARA issued this Monarch butterfly themed medal, using the Monarch’s iconic orange-and-black color palette with the SARA logo in the center. The medal hangs from a dramatic black ribbon.
It’s worth noting that SARA also took the Mayor’s Monarch pledge and has planted a LOT of native milkweed and nectar plants along the Mission Reach that moves south from downtown San Antonio, connecting our historic Missions, recently named collectively a world heritage site. SARA has also maintained a Tropical milkweed patch for years on the San Antonio River Museum Reach north of downtown near the historic Pearl. The site has become a year-round Monarch butterfly hangout in years that we don’t get a freeze. The medal reinforces our city’s–and SARA’s–status as a Monarch champion.
3. CPS Energy’s 2016 Fiesta medal
CPS Energy, San Antonio’s community owned electric and gas utility, was already planning this colorful addition to the butterfly medal roster when it staged a pollinator patch and pathway at the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas Annual Cookie Rally and Tailgate in January. The butterfly theme was a great way to tie in their commitment to renewable energy and sustainability.
The medal sports a showy gold lapel-pin topper emblazoned with “CPS Energy” in bold black letters. A multi-colored ribbon holds a medal on seeded wildflower paper, showing a generic mariposa–the Spanish word for butterfly–lilting above an orange-and-yellow flower. Hmm, is that milkweed? Not sure. NOTE: I work as a contract communications consultant for CPS Energy.
4. San Antonio Water System 2016 Fiesta medal
San Antonio Water System, known locally as SAWS, launched an uber relevant and user-friendly website last year called GardenStyleSA.com. The website aims to encourage locals to landscape more appropriately in a world of dramatic climate change and a community with no surface water resources. Native plant advice, rebates for removing water-guzzling grass–even guidance on pets and plants are included in the educational online resource.
The SAWS medal hangs from a bright aqua ribbon and not only includes a Monarch butterfly, but a fifth instar Monarch caterpillar who appears ready to bust his stripes. The butterfly floats above a variety of flowers and below the SAWS logo and the name of the landscaping website, GardenStyleSA.
“The message is not subtle,” says Karen Guz, director of conservation for SAWS. “If you want Monarch butterflies, help the caterpillars by planting and sustaining the native milkweed plants.”
Amen, sister. And Viva Fiesta!
Don’t forget to vote, below. Just click on your pick, and we’ll share the results.
- Mayor’s Monarch Pledge NOT “just talk,” will change how we manage land
- San Antonio Zoo to stage three-day Monarch butterfly festival
- How to plan your butterfly and pollinator garden
- Guidance on milkweed management confuses butterfly gardeners
- Mostly native urban butterfly garden outperforms grass every time
- Tropical Milkweed: To Plant it or Not is No Simple Question
- $300K grant awarded to UTSA to inventory Texas milkweeds
- Endangered Species Act: wrong tool for monarch butterfly conservation?
- How to raise Monarch butterflies at home, Part 1