Updated: 11:52 a.m., May 24, 2019
Laughter and the cracking of eggs full of confetti echoed across the Texas A&M-University San Antonio campus April 28.
More than 6,300 people gathered for the ninth year of the Festival de Cascarones, a family-oriented day of fun activities and entertainment.
Fifty-six vendor booths surrounded the campus. The aroma of food filled the air, and people stood in long lines to satisfy their taste buds by indulging on chicken-on-a-stick, funnel cake, turkey legs and gorditas.
Only about an hour and a half into the festival, the Welcome Committee had handed out more than 1,000 cascarones. By distributing only one cascarón per person, the event was going very well, as expected from previous years, said volunteer Adam Meyer.
The festival included free admission, free parking, free cinema and many free activities April 28. at 1 p.m. at A&M-San Antonio.
HEB sponsored the event and donated thousands of cascarones to the university for the Festival de Cascarones, Meyer said.
As attendees eagerly waited for the confetti tradition to start, they danced, snapped food selfies and sat around on lawn chairs laughing and talking.
Cindy Gonzales’s family attends the annual event to give back to the community and visit the university her daughter graduated from. Brianna Gonzales graduated in December 2018 with a business administration degree and is now a manager for a waste management company.
“I love the pride of the South Side and the food of course,” Gonzales said.
At most vendor stands chilled bottled water cost $2, popsicles ranged from $2-$3.50, fruit cups were $5 and gorditas were $6 with a $2 lemonade.
“I am helping out at this event because I was voluntold by my wife,” Meyer said. After looking at his wife’s face with a frozen grin, he added, “I want to be a part of Fiesta and its environment.”
Though Meyer is not a student, he said he wanted to help his wife, who works in the Office of Provost.
History senior Claudia Martinez volunteered for her third year at the Festival de Cascarones as the secretary of the Mexican American Student Association.
The festival carries many meanings, such as unity, memories, fun, celebration and family, Martinez said.
Students at A&M-San Antonio not only worked hard but also joined in on the fun by wearing clanking medals and vibrant Fiesta dresses. Kinesiology senior Magda Talavera with the K Club waved her neon sign to get people to buy the Frito Pie and Snow Cone Combo.
“Get your combo,” Talavera shouted.
Many attendees displayed their fiesta medals on shawls. Some had over 100 medals that covered every inch of their shawl. The university’s mascot even had its medals.
But Fiesta is more than medals. The Festival de Cascarones focused on being a family event.
The Kids Zone was a large section at the event for children. The area had several events and activities for children. Children could play the Duck Pond Game to win a prize every time. The objective was straightforward: The child picked up a duck and won a prize based on the number under the duck.
Games, food and live music were all around the Festival de Cascarones. There was something to do for all ages. Those who wanted to get out of the sun and cool down had the option to go into the Auditorium and watch the “Black Panther” movie.
“I think we have a unique celebration here,” Martinez said. “I think it’s really cool that the whole city can come together and celebrate.”
Coming together is exactly what Gabriella Ruiz and her mother Diana Arce did as vendors at the event.
Ruiz, a biology freshman and president of Animal Hearts, said this was her first year at the event but not her last.
Animal Hearts is a student organization created to volunteer at animal shelters and educate about animal safety.
Arce said she was there to support her daughter. She helped make chew toys for dogs in local shelters. Guests had the option to give the toy to animals at a shelter, Animal Hearts or to take it home for their own pet. Ruiz showed flyers of cats and dogs looking for their forever home.
“Cascarones is a part of Fiesta that is a fun-filled colorful experience you share with the family. San Antonio is very family oriented so it’s very prominent especially with the Hispanic community,” Ruiz said.
The event allowed owners to bring their furry friends to have fun as well, as long as they were on a leash. There were many dogs of all sizes and some dressed in their Fiesta attire.
“It’s the feeling of Fiesta,” Denise Kaiser said, smiling as she pulled her small poodle on a leash and waited for her kids to come down an inflatable slide. “It’s everything.”
Kaiser has been attending every year since she lives close by, she said. The slides took center stage as the laughter and shrieks of children could be heard miles away. They cracked cascarones on each other and munched on paletas to help keep them cool.
Cascarones weren’t the only thing cracking. Joyce Raposo, editor-in-chief of The Mesquite, cracked the jackpot when she won a $5,000 Freedom Grant sponsored by My Education Solutions. Seniors can apply online at myedusolutions.com/TAMUSA.
Raposo, a communications senior who will graduate on May 17, applied for the grant at a table My Education Solutions had set up when she attended her ring ceremony April 6.
“I saw the table and wanted to learn more about how I could pay down my debt and stop paying so much interest,” she said.
She had to write two essays to enter. One of the questions she had to answer was what type of legacy she hoped to leave behind.
“I love to mentor students at A&M-San Antonio and enjoy being editor-in-chief for The Mesquite,” she said.
That must have been what tipped the scale for her win, she said. Raposo said she and her husband are very excited and plan to use the money to pay off her student loan debt, “exactly what it’s for,” she said.
“This is the first year we gave the $5,000 grant away and we are so excited that Joyce won,” Pam Goodman, relationship manager of My Education Solutions, said.
Those with stronger ties to the San Antonio community and the university were at the event as well. They were in a secluded VIP area near the Central Academic Building.
Marketing senior Carlos Manjarrez was checking names at the entrance of the VIP Party. If you didn’t RSVP or weren’t on the invite list, you were not allowed in.
The two-hour VIP Party included San Antonio dignitaries, politicians, a former SGA president, San Antonio Fiesta Royalty, A&M-San Antonio President Cynthia Teniente-Matson, her close friends and family, Manjarrez said.
This is the third year that Maria Flores has participated as a vendor at the event. She sells handmade Mexican clothing. She loves the atmosphere and culture and promoting her business, Artes Sanilla Ecuador.
“It’s pretty fun,” she said. “You get to meet a lot of people.”