SA2020, the organization, is made up of individuals who love the city but maybe are also a little bit competitive. When the city’s Office of Historic Preservation announced the Amazing Preservation Race, the ultimate urban adventure, we jumped at the opportunity to pretend we were cast members in the TV show.
The day started out at The Friendly Spot where we met up with our team members and surveyed the competition – some of whom were in super creative costumes. After a brief overview of the rules and process, race organizers let us free to tackle the challenges. To be clear, this was an actual race…running was involved. So were selfies and riddles and math and canoeing.
Each team was handed a race booklet that outlined location clues. As a team we were supposed to guess the location clue, get ourselves to that location and complete a challenge. Once the challenge was completed, we were able to select our next location and race volunteers provided us with the second part of the location clue. We could only complete the challenge if we were at the correct location, so forget trying to save time by going out of order. Additionally, there was a series of photo challenges that required a team photo in front of each landmark. This race required strategy!
Immediately out of the gate, we had already figured our first location and high-tailed it over to Clothesline Cleaners where we did math (on a Saturday morning!) and got to fulfill the life-long desire to operate a garment sorter rack!
After that we set off to the No. 7 Firehouse for our next challenge. A while down St. Mary’s we realized that our reading skills may have needed a little bit of work as we were headed to the NEW No. 7 Firehouse… not the old one as specified.
The morning included run-waking almost five miles throughout Southtown learning all kinds of fantastic facts about San Antonio. We explored the historical homes of the Joske, Nix and Steves families on King William Street. We dumped water on one another with sponges at the OLD No. 7 Firehouse. Dug for artifacts in the Yanaguana sand box and even kayaked in the San Antonio River!
One of our most favorite (read: challenging) tests was at Frank/St. Francis, previously the Alamo Methodist Church, where it took us a while to guess – and appropriately Google – the history of Alamo survivor Andrea Castañón Villanueva (better known as Madame Candelaria). Despite her seemingly dark mood, we became good friends with her.
We meandered our way back to The Friendly Spot after our two-hour time limit expired with our race packet missing just one challenge and one of the required photo challenges. We were bummed to fall a little bit short, but super excited to have traveled one of our favorite neighborhoods on foot, while packing our brains with new knowledge. These kinds of events are awesome because they provide an opportunity to explore local neighborhoods and learn the history and culture for which they are so known.
Here’s the deal: in an effort to make our city even better, we have to get involved. Sometimes, it means volunteering or calling a councilmember with a fantastic idea for solving your neighborhood’s challenges. Other times, it means running around Southtown, getting history lessons, while having cold, dirty water dumped on your head (that happened!). In one two-hour time span, we managed to at least dip our toe in quite a few of our SA2020 Cause Areas: Health & Fitness, Neighborhoods, Environmental Sustainability, and Arts & Culture.
The Amazing Preservation Race happens every year, and you should definitely be a part of the next one! Until then, though, we encourage you to discover more of your city on your own. Walk through a new neighborhood, learn more about a historic building, or see San Antonio from a new perspective while kayaking! We promise, you’ll fall in love with your city a little more.