SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) -Eileen Collins, NASA’s first female space shuttle commander, will lead the 2020 Battle of Flowers Parade, the event that started Fiesta 128 years ago.

Collins was commander of shuttle mission Columbia in 2999. Her final space flight was as commander of Discovery in 2005, the Return to Flight Mission after the tragic loss of Columbia. She has logged more than 6,751 hours in 30 different types of aircraft and more than 872 hours in space as a veteran of four space flights.

She’s hoping her role as grand marshal during Fiesta will help bring awareness to NASA’s space program.

“This is a chance to let people know what NASA does and what our space program is all about,” said Collins. “It’s taking the past and combining it with the future and connecting with our kids.”

Collins spends a lot of time visiting schools and talking to youngsters about her career in the military and NASA.

“Whatever you are dreaming that you want to be in your life, you can do it. That’s the message I’d like to get out,” she told the crowd at the grand marshal announcement Tuesday.

Battle of Flowers Parade Chair Melissa Branch announced that there will be a legion of honorary grand marshals–the Wounded Warriors competing in the 2020 Department of Defense Warrior Games. The Department of Defense Warrior will be held in San Antonio September 21-28 in 2020.

“These heroes are the ones who have served our country and have sacrificed so much,” said Branch. “They’ve been struck down, but not kept down.”

Battle of Flowers Association President Anna-Laura Howell Block, Lt. Col. Chad Humphrey, NASA Shuttle Commander Eileen Collins, Battle of Flowers Parade Chair Melissa Branch/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz

Branch also announced the theme of the Battle of Flowers parade is “Viva Las Flores,” long live the flowers. She explained that the parade originated in 1891 as a way to honor the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo. A small group of women used flowers to decorate carriages and wagons that passed directly in front of the Alamo chapel while riders tossed fresh flowers at each other.

A Battle of Flowers Parade tradition has each participant honoring the heroes of the Alamo with a fresh floral tribute. Each is collected by a cadet from the San Antonio Academy and placed on the lawn in front of the Alamo.

The parade will kick off at 9:30 Grayson and Broadway with the vanguard of high school and college ROTC units and flag bearers stepping off at 8:55 a.m. April 24, 2020.

More about: