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.
2018 Royal Court
2018 King Ernie Zuniga & Queen Breanna Barrs
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
Uriel Diaz is a true San Antonian born and raised in this city. He is a co-owner of the most colorful Antique shop in all of San Antonio, Karolinas Antiques. He, alongside his mother, stepfather, brothers, and sister have put all of their love and effort into making a name for their store in our great city. Uriel also has a passion for all things Fiesta and Selena. You may have seen him all over social media wearing his Bidi Bidi Bom Bom-inspired Fiesta hat, complete with a giant cut out of his idol, Selena right on top. He is also well-known in the Fiesta medal community for wearing those long sashes filled front and back with medals. Fiesta food is what makes him happiest, specifically chicken-on-a-stick. Fiesta holds a special place in his heart since he and his fiance of five years had their first date at the Flambeau parade.
Uriel is an active member of San Antonioʼs LGBT community. He works hard to make his shop, Karolinas Antiques a safe space for everyone to be welcomed. Karolinas throws all kinds of events from Fiesta medal events to art shows and even Drag shows. Uriel supports San Antonioʼs diverse people and community wholeheartedly. "I am truly honored and humbled to be able to give back to the city I love so much by working with the San Antonio River Walk Association to run for River Walk Royalty and hopefully be crowned King."
Follow @como.la.fiesta on IG
April Gomez, a San Antonio native is a mother to three beautiful girls, and she's been married to her high school sweetheart for eight years. For over 15 years she worked in the corporate world with the hopes of someday “breaking out of the cubicle life.” That opportunity came. With her entrepreneurial spirit, she has established Viva! SA, a Marketing & Events Management business.
While the business was under development, April hosted a free weekly networking event open to all business owners and creatives with the passion and drive to expand their business. Through collaboration with industry professionals who service business owners with digital marketing and event management services, Viva! SA has successfully evolved over the past year and a half. Her job as a mother is her priority, and she will often engage her daughters in her business, specifically the social media aspects. Through social media, April is hoping to teach her girls that it’s not all about posting beautiful pictures or selfies but using them to tell a story and evoke emotion through a camera lens. Her main passion lies here and drives her in developing a lasting legacy for her family, just as her Dad (Chuck Gonzales), owner of Solar Electric Texas has done for her.
April’s first and current client is Dominic Mendiola of Dom’s Chop Salsa. Dom had the honor of contending for King of the River Walk in 2017-18. In his Royalty campaign, he appointed Viva! SA to coordinate events, which led his becoming Prince of the River Walk. April is extremely proud of being a part of the efforts to maintain and highlight our city’s gem and promoting the number one tourist attraction in Texas.
“This year, it is an incredible honor to be nominated for River Walk Royalty. I am embracing this opportunity to run for Queen wholeheartedly as a proud representative and as a reflection of our ever-evolving city. With a family that truly appreciates upholding traditions, I am grateful to instill those values in Viva! SA and continuing the advocacy of upholding the overall mission to Promote, Protect and Preserve the San Antonio River Walk.”
Follow her Campaign Journey at https://www.facebook.com/VivaLaRoyalty/ | IG @evolving_creative
Photo Credit: Robert Trebor Photography
Growing up in a San Antonio based military family, Mary Gonzales is a true San Antonian! She is career and education driven. She graduated in the top ten percent of her class at Judson High School, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and holds a Master’s Degree in Communication Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word. Who knows, a Doctoral Degree may be in her near future!
Mary has several years of experience in the field of event logistics and management. Her journey began as an Assistant Director of Development at a successful financial firm, a Marketing Director at an international law firm, then she became a Special Events Coordinator for The Wedding Guide & Bridal Extravaganza and Events Manager for the San Antonio Current. She currently resides as a Sales Representative and Consultant for the largest wine and spirits distributor in the country, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.
Her path has led her to fulfilling volunteer opportunities such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals On Wheels, International Society for Special Events, and Child Advocates of San Antonio (CASA). She serves as an active member of the University of the Incarnate Word Alumni Board. Mary is truly honored to be nominated to run for the 2019 River Walk Royalty and campaign for Queen. The opportunity to give back to her hometown through a new partnership with the San Antonio River Walk Association who serves to Promote, Protect and Preserve the Crown Jewel of our city, will be a journey to remember.
In her spare time, Mary likes to practice boxing, self-defense, and fun runs. She is currently training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon!
Follow Mary’s journey at
Amanda Haro has lived in San Antonio, TX since 2006 and graduated from UTSA with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing. She is a wife and a mother of a darling three-year-old daughter. Amanda owns Flor Boutique, an online women’s clothing shop that operates in San Antonio. One of her favorite aspects of her business is meeting new faces at pop-up events in downtown San Antonio. Getting to know her customers and the local San Antonio business community has made the journey so rewarding and motivating. Throughout her years of living in this beautiful city, Amanda has grown a huge appreciation for its vibrant culture and positive energy. Her favorite time of year in San Antonio is Fiesta! It is so uplifting to see the San Antonio community so alive and colorful during that time.
Amanda is honored to have the opportunity to fundraise for the San Antonio River Walk Association by running for River Walk Royalty and give back to such an amazing city and organization!
Tori Johnson is a local fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger at ThesTORIbook.com and owner of sTORIbook Public Relations. Born in San Antonio, she is a Texas girl through-and-through. She seamlessly intersects her style with her love of San Antonio, family and motherhood.
Tori has long carried a heart for living a life of service, giving and gratitude and is honored to be running for River Walk Royalty and campaigning for Queen of the River Walk. She is excited to have the opportunity to raise funds for the San Antonio River Walk Association which serves to Promote, Protect and Preserve the Crown Jewel of our city.
In 2016, the importance of giving back was personally amplified for Tori when she suffered a stroke and subsequently underwent an implant to place a closure device over a hole in her heart (adding to a chest already full of pacemaker wires). Since that day two years ago, she has made it a daily goal to give back to others (especially those in the city she calls home). Tori has served on the board of Fashion Group International San Antonio, local school PTA boards, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society campaigns, as well as a variety of other campaigns benefiting Texas children and women’s shelters and animal rescue groups.
She has been awarded San Antonio Fashion Blogger of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and has also received recognition from the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Current, San Antonio Magazine and currently serves as Fashion Editor for Texas’ premier luxury magazine, The Society Diaries Magazine.
Tori is a proud Fightin’ Texas Aggie, is married to her college sweetheart, Russell Johnson, and is a mom to two beautiful little boys.
Photo Credit: T Walker Photography
For over 27 years, Richard Leon brought strong values and leadership to every local organization and to our community through his involvement. As a young US Marine, he led a platoon of mechanics in the California desert. After serving, he went back home to spend nine years in the automotive industry, helping fellow Texans. In 2004 Richard received the call to work for the Department of Defense, and for nine years he served our nation’s troops, protecting them from the threat of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2016 Richard came to San Antonio to start a new career working in sales and marketing. Using his leadership, communication, and technology skills, he quickly rose to be a top-notch business developer for tech, cyber-security, and video production. Now, Richard looks to give back to San Antonio by running for the San Antonio River Walk Association's River Walk Royalty and is looking forward to running for King.
Follow his journey at https://www.facebook.com/Riverratpack/
As a local native of San Antonio, Texas born and raised, John has grown up visiting the River Walk and embracing it as the “Heart of our Great City." He is honored to be nominated for the 2019 River Walk Royalty.
In 1999, he received an Educational Development Certificate from Palo Alto Community College. Shortly after in 2000, John received his Cosmetology Operator License and then proceeded on to obtain his Master's in Education License in 2002 from Southwest School of Business in San Antonio. John is the owner of HAIR-BY-JOHN and co-owner of The Beauty “O” Academy. "I am drawn to instructional teaching as a way to express my creativity, while at the same time it gives me the opportunity to interact with individuals."
As a community organizer and activist, John says, "it has been amazing hard work to defend our community and move it forward with great commitment." In 2016 he was named a very memorable figure in the Pride community and was chosen as the 2016 Gay Pride Parade “Spirit Marshal". John volunteers at Haven for Hope to help those in need and began a “Pride Spirit” blanket drive in which he collects washable blankets and donates them to the homeless during the cold winter season. In 2017, he began the “Pride Spirit” Haircuts for up to 3-4 hours for those less fortunate trying to get back into the workforce in hopes of a new beginning. John takes pride in these events because giving back to his community with nothing but the simple things in life and expecting nothing in return but a smile will forever brighten someone else’s day.
In this journey, John promises that PEACE, LOVE, and PRIDE are some of the things he will represent, and he promises to do his best in the fundraising by helping preserve and promote the River Walk and the Robert Hugman architectural scholarship at UTSA.
PEACE is our ultimate goal
LOVE conquers all
PRIDE in our community strengthens unity.