You can never have enough royalty
This past week I had an invitation from a Facebook friend to attend an event helping Steve McHugh, executive chef of Lüke and a good downtown friend, in his candidacy for King of the Riverwalk. Of course I’m going to be down for that. Steve’s a great guy and one of the friendliest people you’d ever meet. Top that off with the wonders that come out of the kitchen at Lüke and you have a great combination. Besides, I’m all for helping out anything associated with downtown and the Riverwalk. But I had to ask the question – where did this new set of royalty come from and what’s going on with it? Didn’t we used to have a Mud King and Queen of the Riverwalk?
It turns out my questions were not unfounded. Checking in with Nancy Hunt, Executive Director of the Paseo Del Rio Association and the folks that manage the Riverwalk, I found out the King and Queen of the Riverwalk were the Mud King and Queen, at one time. According to Hunt “It started as Mud King and Queen decades ago when the river was drained, as a means to get people to the Riverwalk. The candidates actually got in the River in the mud and did silly, bodacious stunts to raise money.” Since then, the royalty now represents the Riverwalk year round, including riding in the Texas Cavaliers’ River Parade, the King William Parade, and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.
Also, since the city changed it’s schedule to drain the river, it really only gets muddy about once every two years. So Mud King and Queen just didn’t make sense when the vast majority of the time the river’s got water in it. Hence, the change and more fun and frivolity in store for the royalty. After all, this is San Antonio where we need almost no excuse to throw a party. Last year, Holley, Board member & Area Manager with InterContinental Hotel Group, and Shanon Peterson, Historic Preservation Officer with the city of San Antonio, were the selected royalty. You can check out this year’s candidates and vote for them at the Paseo Del Rio website.
Talking to Steve on Monday night, he’s excited about the opportunity. Granted, he’s in the running with two other candidates but he’s built up a reputation as a huge advocate of San Antonio and the Riverwalk since Lüke first opened at the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel. If you’ve ever been to Lüke on a weeknight he’s often walking around the dining room, checking with everyone to make sure their experience is up to Lüke standards. Representing the Riverwalk just seems like a natural to him.
One funny thing Steve happened to mention to me Monday was “this is probably the only election where you can legally buy the vote.” Very true and I love it, especially here in Texas where we seem to have more fun and chaos in elections than anywhere else, except for maybe Florida. But then you have to ask where the proceeds from the campaigns go. Hunt answered, saying “The proceeds help fund the over 20 free events that Paseo produces each year on the River Walk for locals and tourists to enjoy.”
Considering the Riverwalk is the 14th most popular tourist destination in the United States, as ranked by Forbes in 2008, it makes sense for the Association to help promote and maintain the Riverwalk. After all, it’s really the face of San Antonio, along with the Alamo, to so many visitors to our city. It’s a fragile environment that has so much history surrounding it.
So I encourage you to take the time and vote for one of the candidates, if you feel inclined or just want to thank them for their contribution to downtown and the Riverwalk. The Association is having a final chance to meet the candidates and vote for them at the Rollin’ with the Royalty Pub Crawl, February 17th from 5:30 – 10 p.m.