Flowers

Rose Garcia’s flower family brings bloom to San Antonio, Fiesta for over 50 years

It’s called “The Den,” but a room at Battle of Flowers headquarters in Government Hill is more like an indoor grove, with colorful crêpe paper flowers blooming out of boxes. The brightest of the flowers is Rose. For more than 50 years, Rose Garcia has handcrafted the flowers that set the scene for the San Antonio tradition. This year’s installment of the Fiesta parade prep marks her final year her at the helm.

Garcia’s mother, Genevieve Loera, joined the original team of flower-makers under Cora Watson when she was 13 in 1928. Over the years, the parade production became a family affair and tradition as Loera brought on her sisters and their daughters or daughters-in -law. In 1970, shortly after graduating high school, Garcia joined the three-month contract work with her mom her. In 1990, she became the boss of the blooms. Garcia, now 72, is only the third boss of the process after her predecessors Her, Watson and Francis Rabb.

Rose Garcia’s family has been part of the parade prep since 1928, when her mother Genevieve Loera joined Cora Watson’s team.

Madalyn Mendoza, MySA.com

Garcia and her committee, a team she affectionately calls “her girls” fill the room with tradition, chatter, flower-making and Fiesta zeal for weeks leading up to the parade. The makers fills rows of tables that stretch across The Den’s hardwood floors. Garcia’s girls her, who are the same age as her, toil away, cutting and rolling the paper and foil into ornate bouquets that will dress more than 20 floats in the parade. The more than 300,000 people who attend the parade see her work each year, and that ‘s not counting the audience who watches the event on TV or online.

Garcia treats me to a demonstration of her flower-making, a time-honored process that has not changed since her mother learned it as a teen. She unfolds a portion of the crêpe paper into a form that looks like a small crown, cuts away small chunks from the top, then starts folding. It’s a rhythm Garcia says she could do in her sleep: three folds about half an inch wide, then turn in until the flower blossoms. She humors me by allowing me to give it a try. In the time it takes me to make one flower, she completes two. Soft-spoken and warm, she guides me and assures me in a way that feels familial, the same way my grandmas taught me to spread masa on a corn husk or cover every cana with HEB-bought hair dye.

Rose Garcia demonstrates the flower-making process that's been passed down since the early 1900s.

Rose Garcia demonstrates the flower-making process that’s been passed down since the early 1900s.

Madalyn Mendoza, MySA.com

“You did real good for a beginner,” she says sweetly.

Garcia was giving me too much credit. My work was the kind of flower a pre-schooler takes home and parents pretend to be proud of.

But after decades of teaching women to make flowers, I’m proud to have been taught by the best. Garcia doesn’t know who will succeed her, but she says she’s not going away just yet. Shell’ll be around to make sure everything is running smoothly.

“I’ll be coming back, they’re not going to get rid of me,” she jokes.

And of course, she’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the end result for parades to come. She says each year, she watches the floats pass and will make sure each petal is proppped perfectly for the parade. Sometimes, she’ll adjust her work moments before the floats hit the downtown streets.

“It makes me happy because you see the flowers we produced and you get to see the girls that are riding on them,” she says, beaming. “We don’t know the girls, we only know the names, but we get to see their beautiful dresses.”

Rose Garcia, 72, has been hand-making Battle of Flowers decorations for more than 50 years.

Rose Garcia, 72, has been hand-making Battle of Flowers decorations for more than 50 years.

Madalyn Mendoza, MySA.com

The association isn’t letting Garcia retire without a send-off fit for a queen. For the first time, she’ll be part of the parade pomp. The association is giving Garcia her her flowers her by dedicating a float to her her. Garcia will ride in the route with her her plus one her, her her husband her Clemente. Another first? She does n’t know what the arrangements will look like for her float her, it’s a surprise put together by her team her.

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