Once upon a time, the “Crown Jewel” of San Antonio, known as the River Walk, had its’ magical water drained every year for a week. The citizens and visitors became sad that their beautiful river contained only mud. To bring joy to the good people, the citizens appointed a Mud King and Queen every year for the week of mud. The king and queen, in turn, raised money which was used to provide mirth and merriment along the River Walk once it was refilled. All rejoiced! Through the years the river was drained less often and the tradition of Mud King and Queen ended. In the year 2010, the tradition was happily replaced with a court of River Walk Royalty who still rule today, bringing joy to all.
Since 1987 River Walk Royalty began serving for a full calendar year. Throughout their reign, they serve as ambassadors for the San Antonio River Walk Association sharing in the mission to promote, protect, and preserve the San Antonio River Walk. Each year four King and four Queen Candidates work to raise money for the many free River Walk events organized annually by the San Antonio River Walk Association. Nominees are announced in September and are given seven months to fundraise for their “position” on the royal court. Titles are awarded in the order of who raises the most money. King and Queen, Prince and Princess, Duke and Duchess, Count and Countess. A Royal Coronation ceremony occurs in April.
Royalty are responsible for making appearances at not only River Walk events but various other occasions throughout the city. Royalty campaigns are one of the largest fundraising activities for the association. Not only is being a River Walk royal a great honor, it is a responsibility. One must perfect the royal wave, ride in countless parades, and look great wearing a crown.
After their official royal reign is over, former royals are invited to become lifelong Ambassadors for the San Antonio River Walk Association. Their mission is to enhance the River Walk royalty program by participating in events, act as mentors for new royalty and continuing to promote the San Antonio River Walk. This group of Royal alumni also volunteer at various River Walk Events and holds their own fundraising campaigns to purchase the royal regalia for incoming royalty.
Interested in becoming royalty? Contact Sponsorship Director Loren Reyes at [email protected]
Watch this clip from our 2017 River Walk Royalty Coronation at the Tobin Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WD5lyDg0p8
2018 Royalty Candidates
Jesse Cazares, Founder of Socialize San Antonio, one of San Antonio, Texas fastest growing online social media blogs, has managed to showcase the culture, culinary scene, growth, entertainment, education, music and more to thousands of followers. From what started out as a way for locals to find out what is happening in SATX, has turned into a source of information now internationally for both locals and visitors alike to discovery our gem of San Antonio. As a native, Jesse finds its his personal goal to become King of The San Antonio River Walk in order to continue his mission of making our home recognized as a must stop destination.
This isn't Jesse's first time being nominated for his contributions to San Antonio. In 2016, he was a nominee for "Downtowner of the Year" by Centro San Antonio. Although he lost, it was only beginning.
"We are more than just a river, we are city of locals that are kind, compassionate and accepting in which everyone that lives or visits here should experience," explains Jesse.
Jesse has a history of being involved in the community and being invited to many events not only to attend but even emcee. Not only was he a former intern for The San Antonio River Walk, but was asked back to be the intro emcee for The Armed Forces River Parade, which aired nationally. In addition to already being a millennial on the rise, has worked closely along side News 4 WOAI, SA Living co-host, Claudia Garofalo, the current Queen of The River Walk, to showcase the importance of social media for local businesses with his segments, T.G.I.J. Fashionably, he was invited to be the main emcee for Misuer Fashion Show at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. The list of commitments goes on and will continue to grow of his contributions to San Antonio.
With the title of King of The San Antonio River Walk, Jesse hopes to continue to grow with the city that has given him so many opportunities.
"It's time for San Antonio get the recognition it deserves. From being a previous intern with SAPD under Sheriff Salazar, to community service, interacting with many non-profit, local and corporate businesses and really showing the world the heart of our city, will be a great opportunity from which we call all grow from." - Jesse Cazares.
Andrew Lopez has managed to not only capture the beauty of San Antonio, but also the hearts of many of it’s residents. Lopez was born on the the west side of San Antonio where he spent his youth within arms reach of a camera and always searching for the perfect glass of iced tea. Little did he know that in due time he’d convert a pastime hobby into a full time career. As a graduate of Sidney Lanier High School, Lopez tried his hand at college where he started out at San Antonio College. Nothing really connected with him and he soon left education for a role in banking.
Over time he realized something was missing in his life and tried his hand at school again only this time it was at International Academy of Design and Technology. That’s when his hunger for creativity was sparked again and dove in head first into his education. During this time in college Lopez decided to purchase a camera for his photography class not knowing how much potential it had just then. With a foot in the door at the San Antonio Current as a graphic design intern, he eventually started covering events for them and his love of photography grew. Finally in 2014 he graduated with a bachelor degree in fine arts of graphic design but something was still missing.
That’s when he decided that his hobby in photography needed a little more attention than anything. So he took the ultimate risk and left the banking world forever and launched his company, dru | photography and became a photographer full time. And recently this year in 2017 was voted best photographer in the San Antonio Current by readers.
Lopez is running for Riverwalk King with goals to set such as, uncover the beauty of art that lies within the roots of his community. Lopez humbly accepts this nomination and will continue to carry on the roles and responsibilities of representing San Antonio’s River Walk Royalty.
Dominic Mendiola is the Owner of Dom’s Chop salsa, a San Antonio born and based company founded by him, his wife, and even his kiddos. He’s an Air Force military kid who was born in the land of aliens, Roswell NM, and raised in the last frontier of Alaska. At the age of 14, he finally made it to Texas, and has called San Antonio home ever since. As he says, “I love the compassion and character of the people in this city….and of course always our Spurs! I’m never leaving!”.
After graduating from John Marshall High School, Dominic spent most of his professional career working in IT. He spent the past 11 years working at the locally founded, and now global, Rackspace Hosting. While at Rackspace, Dominic developed a very unique salsa recipe that involved grilling his vegetables over mesquite charcoal and wood. In 2014, he was encouraged to start canning the tasty salsa, and within a couple of months, he was making and selling 600 jars every 6 weeks to his Rackspace co-workers. A year later, a fortuitous encounter with a San Antonio Express News food writer led to an article chronicling their journey from just making it for fun to building an actual salsa company from the ground up. Hard work, determination, and the article won Dominic and his family a call from HEB, and in April of 2016, their place on the H-E-B shelves. Dom's Chop Salsa has since sustained its slow and steady growth, and is considered to be the best salsa on the shelf by all who have tried it.
Dominic went full-time "Salsapeneur" earlier this year, and has since spent his time becoming actively involved in the city he loves so much. His wife Susana, son, Joshua (17), and daughter, Isabella (12), are at the center of everything he does. Together, they enjoy volunteering & sponsoring events for local organizations like Texas Public Radio, Worth Repeating, Geekdom, Wounded Warriors, Viva SA, and many more.
The San Antonio River Walk Association and their efforts to protect and preserve the crown jewel of the city, is an organization near & dear to his heart. This year, Dominic is very excited to be representing them in the running for the 2018 River Walk Royalty Court!
“I’m unbelievably honored to even be in the conversation for nomination. I spend so much of my time downtown at The River Walk, Southtown, Pearl, and many other areas, and always marvel at how lucky we are to be in a city with people that love to maintain its historical beauty. Now having the opportunity to run for King of the Riverwalk, and be a part of this family of city caretakers, is an honor I proudly accept. We have the number one visited attraction in the state in the River Walk, and I promise my family and I will definitely do our part to keep it that way!” - Dominic Mendiola
I am honored to be a candidate for King of the River Walk.My wife Tami and I have spent most of our adult lives in San Antonio and some of our greatest memories have come from experiences we have shared on the River Walk.These days, we look forward to the opportunities when we are able to take our children to see the River Walk.There’s no other place like it anywhere!
I wake up San Antonio bright and early each weekday morning as the anchor and co-host of FOX News First. I also spent nine years as a sports anchor and reporter here in San Antonio and other markets.
I was born and raised in Victoria, Texas and graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Houston-Victoria.
I enjoy working with non-profits like the March of Dimes, the 100 Club of San Antonio and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Being new to San Antonio, it’s important to get involved to really understand and appreciate the community. I was born and raised here in Texas, just outside of Dallas, so I understand the great spirit of Texans. I attended Texas Tech University, moved to Alabama to start my career, but couldn’t get back to Texas quick enough.
As a news anchor and reporter meeting people is the best part of the job and being able to share someone’s story is even a greater honor. I think it’s important to be an advocate for people and give a voice to the voiceless.
So, when I was nominated for River Walk Royalty I knew it would be an amazing opportunity to get in touch with San Antonians. So far, throughout my campaign I've been able to experience the River Walk up close, meeting generous and kind people.
There’s so much to love about our San Antonio River Walk: the lights at Christmas, the entertaining barge rides, the amazing culinary creations you’ll find at restaurants and the beautiful shows at the Arneson Theatre. The atmosphere, the natural elements, and of course, the San Antonio River come together for a wonderful experience. I want to be a part every effort to bring more people, both locals and tourists, to visit our beautiful River Walk.
I humbly ask for your support as Queen of the San Antonio River Walk. I look forward to spending the next few months being an ambassador for the San Antonio River Walk and promoting its historical and cultural contributions to the people of South Texas.
As a full-time single mom of 4, and entrepreneur, it’s always my goal to lead by example, for my children. Running for Queen of the Riverwalk and being able to fundraise for this amazing city that we call home, is doing just that!
Whether it’s volunteering for a shift at the San Antonio Food Bank with my 4 incredible kids in tow, opening up our home to foster animals through ACS, or serving as a Board Member for The Farm by Culinaria, I firmly believe in giving back to our community; it helps me to always lead with heart, and get a deep understanding of our city.
I love being able to promote San Antonio and it’s culturally-rich and vibrant downtown, through my award-winning blog, Champagne Taste Beer Budget, and serving as a brand ambassador for countless local companies. I also enjoy helping businesses expand and grow through the The Social Agency - a bespoke firm offering PR, marketing and social media, that I helped create a year ago with other strong, passionate San Antonio women, to showcase our diverse city.
I’m truly honored to be a part of the 2018/2019 Riverwalk Royal Court. Thank you, San Antonio, for the opportunity!
Amber Leigh Hinojosa
Amber Leigh Hinojosa, born and bred Texas, has lived in San Antonio for 20 years now. This “Valley Girl” comes to us from the small South Texas city of McAllen. After graduating from Saint Mary’s University in 2005, she worked for great companies such as The Palmer Course at La Cantera, and Spurs Sports & Entertainment, before stumbling into her current role. Over the last 10 years she has represented an exemplary portfolio in the alcohol beverage industry, from a Brand Specialist to a Key Account Manager. This career has afforded her the opportunity to partner with local businesses, from Delice Chocolatier and Patisserie, KassieeFerrel make-up artist, to Pulp Coffee, and notable local river walk businesses as Rio Rio Cantina, Mad Dogs, and Waxy O’Connor’s - to name a few. You can also see this busy butterfly behind the scenes of large-scale events, working with organizations that give back to community and local charities; The SA River Walk Association, Culinaria, The Current and San Antonio Cocktail Conference, where each organization’s charitable efforts are appreciated across the city, from across all walks of life. It is because of these growing relationships that Amber humbly accepts the nomination to run for the San Antonio River Walk Royalty Court, and campaign for Alamo Locals. Her efforts to Shop, Eat, Play Local will continue in both her professional role and as your San Antonio River Walk Queen!
“San Antonio has given me much. And I’ve taken much - experience, roller coasters of emotions, knowledge, breath-taking country views, and my favorite treasure, friendships. I would like to give back what I owe this culturally beautiful city.”
Ally Hunter is a single mother of three. She has lived and worked in San Antonio for the last ten years. Bleeding Silver and Black does not do this fan justice. She worked as a Lead Server for the season ticket holders of the San Antonio Spurs. She also earned a replica of the 2014 Spurs Championship Ring, which she cherishes. Ally could not resist the opportunity to join the management team at Howl at the Moon on the San Antonio Riverwalk. She was recently promoted to Marketing Coordinator at Howl at the Moon. This position creates growth and opportunity for her by developing strong relationships with other businesses on the San Antonio Riverwalk.
Ally has always enjoyed the ambiance of downtown San Antonio and knows that the Riverwalk is an important part of the atmosphere. Holding a position on the San Antonio Riverwalk Royal Court has been a dream of Ally’s. The importance of this opportunity is not lost on her. She will give all and do her very best to live up to the expectations and duties of this honor.
The preservation of the San Antonio Riverwalk guarantees that this stunning and important landscape will be around for generations to come. Thank you for supporting my efforts to keep the San Antonio Riverwalk amazing.