The History of River Walk Royalty
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 at the Royal Masquerade Gala, kicking off the Mardi Gras Weekend celebration on the river.
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, but it is also a responsibility. One must perfect the royal wave, ride in countless parades, and look great wearing a crown.
2020 Royal Court
Friends of the River Walk
After their official royal reign is over, former royals are invited to become lifelong ambassadors for the San Antonio River Walk Association by joining the commitee for Friends of the River Walk. FOTRW (Friends of the River Walk) is the charitable 501(c) 3 under the River Walk Association. Our mission is to engage individuals within our local community. As a collective organization, we make the biggest impact on the enrichment of education and enhancement of our cities' crown jewel, the River Walk. The committee members also oversee the royalty program by participating in events, act as mentors for new royalty and continuing to promote the San Antonio River Walk. Anyone can become a "friend" of the River Walk for only $35 a year. Become a member today!
NOW LOOKING FOR 2021 ROYALTY!
Interested in becoming royalty? Contact Sponsorship Director Loren Reyes at [email protected] or fill out the form below:
Watch clips from our past River Walk Royalty Coronation events:
2019 River Walk Royalty Coronation at the Hyatt Regency: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6dfZYMa9uc
2017 River Walk Royalty Coronation at the Tobin Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WD5lyDg0p8
2020 ROYAL COURT
2020 Queen: Michelle Bononcini
A Native of San Antonio, Michelle has lived and loved the “210” her entire life. Her fondest memories as a child growing up in the Alamo City were riding the bus with her Dad to Commerce Street to dance to Bongo Joe’s oil barrel drums, a downtown staple in the 1980’s. Michelle stayed close to home to attend St. Mary’s University after graduating from Alamo Heights High School. She proudly transformed from a Mule to a Rattler and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art in Criminal Justice. During her stay at St. Mary’s University, she found a second family with the sisters of Alphi Phi. As an alumna, Michelle continues to be active in the Alpha Phi Alumnae Chapter with fundraiser efforts for the Alpha Phi Foundation and the NICU Baby Safe Room at University Hospital. These efforts contribute to an increased awareness and research efforts for women’s cardiac care.
For her birthday every year, in lou of gifts, she asks her friends and family to bring a donation for a charity that is close to her heart such as San Antonio Pets Alive, The San Antonio Cancer Association, local homeless shelters, and Senior Community Centers. Michelle’s charitable passion is deep rooted from her upbringing serving the lord at St. Anthony de Padua with her ministry group and church friends. Michelle has always had a natural entrepreneur and sales personality. During college, she sold jewelry from the trunk of her car to her sorority sisters for extra cash. So it wasn’t a surprise when she started Fiesta Loca, a social media mini-series that showcases and sells authentic Mexican outfits and accessories with comedic integration and local celebrity appearances.
Her entrepreneurial spirit flows into her daily 9-5 at a local not-for profit organization. Her day consists of helping owners, new and experienced, to develop their business and operate with processes that are founded on good business practices. Just wait! Michelle’s work life doesn’t stop there. Her nights and weekends are committed to the promotions team at the San Antonio Current as she works on events such as Beer Festival and Whisky Business. Her promotional job gives her the opportunity to interact with San Antonio’s socialites while also promoting the finest restaurants, local hot spots, and events in town.
Her vivacious energy and spirit are contagious, sprinkling everyone around her with good vibes and laughter. “Que va ser esta loca?!” meaning “ What will she do next?!” In her spare time, Michelle loves to karaoke (mostly rap and yes , rap)! She loves a good Texas country concert or floating with her friends. Her friends mean everything to her. Her Mother proudly shares, “ We don’t know how she does it. She has thousands of close friends and remains loyal to each one, so I know they will support her in this ride.”
In the little time she has manages to carve out for herself she likes spending it with her family playing bingo or binge-watching Criminal Minds with a bucket of popcorn. Her biggest fan was her grandmother Josefina, who she is named after - Michelle Josephine. Michelle wants to dedicate this journey to her.
With her next venture upon her, she is ecstatic and blessed for the opportunity to help preserve, promote, and protect the heart of the our Alamo City, the San Antonio River Walk! But she can’t do it without your help! She is asking for your open hearts and charitable contributions to her fundraising campaign for 2020 River Walk Royalty.
Follow her journey at:
2020 King: David Cruz
Once Upon a Time there lived a Royal Prince by the name of David Cruz….a native of Delightful Del Rio. David was bewildered by the beauty of San Antonio and at the young age of 18 yrs old he made San Antonio his home. He never looked back because it has always felt like home. David Cruz attended Northwest Vista and University of the Incarnate Word.
Since his younger years, David was always surrounded by family in construction, especially his (late) father and Master Plumber, Hector Cruz. David always had Real Estate in the back of his mind and with a little encouragement from his family, David transitioned from a career in government and corporate travel (spanning almost 13 years) into Real Estate. He is now a full-time REALTOR®, Office Manager, and Director of Recruiting for Carter TX Realty. David is very involved in the San Antonio Real Estate Realm. He is a NAHREP (National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals) Director for Events, Vice-President of the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce, in the NAGLREP (National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals) Leadership Committee and a member of SABOR’s YPN Committee.
David’s hobbies include running 5K’s/Marathons, cycling, yoga as well as spending time with his family, friends, and traveling all over the world. If David isn’t with a client and/or traveling, you can find him volunteering his time with various Non-Profit Organizations, which include CASA, SAAF, Wounded Warrior Project SA and SAPD Blue Angels- just to name a few. David is a natural born leader and philanthropist. As stated, he has the royalty and service to others attitude. He was an ambassador and held various title as a young child and teenager. During the holidays David also adopts families in need for Christmas and provides gifts to those less fortunate.
One of David’s lifetime motto's has been to reinvent himself from time to time without losing foundation. This leads him to share that he can remember his father’s words, “Take care of your character because it is what people will remember you by and your reputation is what people think of you.” He believes this to be a true analogy of what his father represented. David is a fine example of an advocate for his community. When asked what advocacy means to him, David replied, ‘having a strong and passionate voice.’ David loves San Antonio, and no matter where he travels to, when he’s asked where he’s from, he proudly mentions San Antonio, and most people know of the River Walk, then the Alamo.
David is VERY excited and honored to be a candidate for the 2020 River Walk Royalty. The River Walk is a place where the flavors of the city (whether you like Mexican food, Italian, barbecue, or dessert) come together to create great memories. That’s why we welcome 37 million visitors each year. The history of San Antonio can be seen and felt while floating down the river, as well as the Christmas lights during the holidays adds that extra special touch. David promises to keep talking about San Antonio, and helping preserve and promote the River Walk no matter where he is. David is also known for his unique and out of the box thinking for marketing. A vote for David is a vote for continued advocacy and promotion of the South Texas Treasure the River Walk.
Follow the legacy follow David Cruz for River Walk Royalty. #D4K
Follow David and his Journey on Social Media:
Photo Credit: JF Photography©
2020 Princess: Desiree Lancharic
Desiree Lancharic is a San Antonio native. After 12 years of friendship and 5 years of dating, she tied the knot with her husband, Aaron in 2016. They have a beautiful (and sassy!) 5-year-old daughter named Teagan.
Currently, she is the Sales Manager for Go Rio San Antonio Cruises and is active in both the Hospitality and Tourism industries. She is a Certified Tourism Ambassador and is a member of several associations, alliances, and committees across several sectors in the downtown community. She was nominated for Service Manager of the Year for her role at Go Rio Cruises. This year, Desiree has taken on the coordination and development of more community outreach programs, which has been a fulfilling experience for her. She has a deep love for Fiesta and medal collecting and has started her own family Fiesta traditions as she “Parties with a Purpose” for the 10 best days in April (which also happens to be her birthday month)!
The River Walk is Desiree’s second home, and she believes it is important to promote, preserve, and protect it.
Follow Desiree's Campaign on Facebook--https://www.facebook.com/DesireeRoyalty/?modal=admin_todo_tour
2020 Prince: Isidro "Iszy" Herrera
Isidro "Iszy" Herrera was born and raised in San Antonio, TX and grew up in the Westside of the city. Iszy is a graduate from Thomas Jefferson High School and attended San Antonio College. He started working for the Rainforest Café in 2005 as a server and worked his way up to the management team where he nowin charge of Marketing and Group Sales.
Iszy takes pride in his work and is an advocate in help keeping the River Walk in top shape. When asked about the River Walk he simply replies, "The River Walk is a huge part of the city and in my opinion is the heart of the city, so we all need to do our part in keeping it up to par."
One Of Iszy's favorite childhood memories is when his late father Pete Herrera & Mother Rosalinda Herrera, would take him and his siblings down to the River Walk during the Holidays to see the Holiday lights and enjoy a Hot Chocolate and an ice cream from Mr. Ice Cream.
Iszy is a huge animal rights advocate and values the Animal Defense League of Texas. He rescued 2 cats (Kitty & Thackery) in which he considers to be his babies. In his free time he gives back by volunteering at local animal shelters and dog parks. He also gives back to the city during its annual maintenance of the River Walk. He partners up with Center City Development and Operations to do his part in preserving the River Walk.
As a future 2020 River Walk Royalty, Iszy's Goal is to help Achieve the associations mission to promote, protect and preserve our beautiful gem, The San Antonio River Walk. Iszy is both honored and humbled to be part of a prestigious organization.
Follow his journey at: https://www.facebook.com/iszy.mychaels
Contact Iszy at: [email protected]
2020 Duchess: Jessica Strom
Jessica Lynn Strom is a local lifestyle blogger at JessicaLynnStrom.com and also is Programs Manager at the Epilepsy Foundation Central & South Texas. Jessica has called the Greater San Antonio Area home for nearly a decade, and since moving to South Texas, the River Walk has carved out a special place in her heart.
Philanthropy and community giving have always been at the core of everything in Jessica’s life, from her self-titled blog which focuses on philanthropy, food, fun, and fashion, to her job at the Epilepsy Foundation Central & South Texas. Jessica is proud to serve the San Antonio community every day.
Jessica knows the impact of community service and giving and sees it in action every day at her job and through her blog interaction when she posts about a community giving event. “People in San Antonio really care deeply about one another, and strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. It's something so deeply ingrained in our culture here and is such a beautiful thing to see in action.”
Though she serves the local area daily, Jessica also spends a great deal of her time outside work at local area nonprofits. She serves on the Board of Directors of the San Antonio College Alumni Association, is a member of the Junior League of San Antonio, and is involved with a myriad of other nonprofit campaigns benefiting animal and wildlife rescue groups, historic preservation, the LGBTQ community, mental health organizations, and women’s shelters. She truly enjoys making a measurable difference in the San Antonio and surrounding communities. Jessica also enjoys hikes in the Hill Country, wine tasting, playing with her dogs, and has also started learning American Sign Language.
Jessica is so humbled and excited to be part of the San Antonio River Walk Royal Court to give back to a city she loves so dearly by working with the San Antonio River Walk Association which serves to promote, protect and preserve one of the beautiful jewels of our city. She hopes that participating in the River Walk Royalty program will help bring much needed attention and funding to sustain the beautiful River Walk and keep its historical legacy alive for generations to come.
2020 Duke: Ray Salazar
Raymond Salazar was born and raised in Southside of San Antonio TX and was brought up in a strong Hispanic household and has embraced the Hispanic culture as his parents owned and operated a Mexican restaurant in the Southside of San Antonio, off Hutchins and Zarzamora, throughout his early childhood years. Throughout middle and high school years, Ray always felt the need to be involved within the community by playing sports, volunteering with school functions, and by participating in the Cultural Arts Parades yearly. Until this day, Ray still volunteers his time to the Cultural Arts Parade due to the fact that now all his nieces and nephews attend schools within the Harlandale District. After graduating from McCollum High School in 2002, his dreams were focused on obtaining a business degree while attending local community college at Palo Alto College, but suddenly Ray became sick and found out that he had gastric cancer. "I didn’t know what to think or how to feel but I did know I had a purpose in life and that’s when I realized I needed to do more for my community since I was limited to working due to my personal health issues."
Ray became involved yearly with the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner as well as The Wreaths Across America. He also started a Fiesta Medal Page called the "Fiesta Medal Freaks" on Social Media which has reached over 1800 followers within a year's time. Fiesta Medal Freaks gave Ray the opportunity to meet many dedicated Fiesta go-getters, who not only celebrate in April but keep the Fiesta spirit alive throughout the year as it becomes part of our everyday culture living in Good Ole San Antonio! And unlike any other ﬁesta group, Fiesta Medal Freaks offers free advertisement to any local businesses, from your next door neighborhood mom and pop shop to any upcoming community events that can bring the city together free of cost.
On April 4th, 2018 Ray hosted his ﬁrst Fiesta Medal event at the Courtyard Marriott by SeaWorld where he organized a Mariachi band, 35+ Fiesta Medal Vendors and the appearance of "Piñatas in the Barrio Royalty." Over 350+ people attended which led to the social media page, "The Great 2019 FiestaMedal Scavenger Hunt!" This group is open to the Public and encourages anyone and everyone of all ages to have fun, go back to our childhood spirits, and participate in this fun-ﬁlled Fiesta Medal Scavenger Hunt throughout San Antonio. "Believe me, it’s been a successful accomplishment to see all ages of our community coming together daily, participating and taking time out of their busy lives to take the opportunity in hiding a ﬁesta medal and posting clues throughout the day while others are immediately posting follow-up pictures of their new Fiesta medal ﬁnds.
By running the Fiesta Medal Freaks page, Ray has expanded his volunteer work by hosting a Candy Drive in October for children living at Haven for Hope. He collected and donated over 250 trick-or-treat bags. In December, Ray hosted his 1st toy drive allowing him to collect and donate over 500 toys to children living at St. PJ's Children's Shelter. All these donations came from the community, and Ray hopes he can continue and expand this tradition yearly. "Not only is my focus on the children of the community, but for the adults as well!"
"Not only is this page bringing our community together, but it’s also a reminder to us that we’re never too old or too young to not have fun and enjoy the simple things in life that bring someone a smile at no cost, just by giving up some of your daily time" -Ray.
Ray is excited for the opportunity to become the 2020 River Walk King, but regardless of the outcome, he pledges to do what he can to make people smile and enjoy life to the fullest!
"Thank you, Viva Fiesta!"- Raymond Salazar
Fiesta Medal Freaks
Photo Credit: Galindo and Son Photography
Follow my campaign:https://www.facebook.com/Ray4RWRoyalty2020/
2020 Count: Victor “Tito” Caballero
A San Antonio native, Tito Caballero is both Host and Creative Director for iHeartRadio here in San Antonio. When reflecting on his fondest family memories, Tito’s childhood visits to our South Texas Treasure, the San Antonio River Walk, are top of mind – especially the thrill of attending the iconic Ford Holiday River Parade. Committed to giving back, he’s dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the centerpiece of our great city!
Tito is an advocate for those communities he has called home having donated his time and efforts to help Assistance for Vets, Serving Seniors, San Diego’s LGBTQ Center, San Antonio AIDS Foundation, and Children’s Hospital. He’s particularly passionate about helping students, regardless of socioeconomic status, to gain access to opportunities in the arts through the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. He’s also raised funding for other non-profit organizations in the arts community in hopes to further increase awareness and further urban youth initiatives.
In addition to his current on-air responsibilities at 104.5 Latino Hits and American Vida Podcast, Tito has pioneered new technology and content initiatives for both radio and television. As former president of Futuri Media, he’s assisted to the reshape of content and audience engagement models for major media companies around the world. This has led to the increase of Futuri client base to over 1000 radio and television stations and networks in over 18 countries. Tito has also developed radio ad campaigns for Coca-Cola, World Cup in South Africa, and Ford to promote their new redesigned Ford Fiesta, which targeted first-time car buyers in Latin America.
Tito was raised in the south side of San Antonio where he attended Health Careers and Harlandale High Schools. When he’s not working or donating his time to local charitable causes, he can either be found at Medina Lake, playing golf at the historic Brackenridge Golf Course, or ordering tacos at one of his many favorite San Antonio taco shops. During the San Antonio Spurs season, you can find Tito court side or with his father enjoying the game at home. Always positive, encouraging, genuine, and compassionate, Tito works hard to inspire others to be the best version of themselves.