Bat loco iconPeople are going batty at the Bat Loco Bash festival in San Antonio!  Bat parade, music, educational activities - fun for the whole family!

Bat loco

When San Antonio decided to make the city’s river more accessible back in 2011 they weren’t expecting to find anything under the bridges. Who knew thousands of bats could be so sneaky? A colony of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) have been making their home in the heart of the city and, now six years later, kids and adults come to join them for a fun night out on the town.

BatLoco 2
Many celebrated by dressing up in their batty best!
Courtesy of Katie Jepson / Bat Conservation International

Originally a swamp, the area under the I-35 and Newell bridges was built up to include additional hiking trails and sidewalks when they discovered the colony. “All that stuff was expanded up into this area five years ago and that’s when they found out they had bats.” Fran Hutchins, the Director of the Bracken Cave Preserve with Bat Conservation International explains.

With thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats pouring out from under the I-35 Bridge every night it’s no wonder that people like Hutchins decided to get in on the action. Together with the San Antonio River Authority and Texas State Parks & Wildlife, BCI created a whole new event to feature the amazing bat flight.

Echo the bat leads a batty parade down the street.  
Courtesy of Katie Jepson / Bat Conservation International

Bat Loco takes advantage of the incredible show while giving people a little information about the bats. “It’s in the city so it’s a chance for locals to get out and learn about bats,” adds Hutchins, “people to come and enjoy the river walk, learn something about bats, and watch a bat flight.”

The Bat Loco Bash is a unique way to end the summer for kids all over the San Antonio area. The event takes place on the last Tuesday before school starts and offers not only music, educational booths, and games, but also gives visitors a perfect view of the 60,000 Mexican free-tailed bats taking off for the night.

“People cheer when the bats start coming out,” says Hutchins. “It’s just a lot of fun, you know, having some kind of family friendly event.”

Crowds cheer as the bats take flight. 
Courtesy of Katie Jepson / Bat Conservation International

Things have changed a lot since Bat Loco started back in 2013. Originally there might be as few as 50 visitors to join the educational bat walk along the river, but things have grown quite a bit since then. “It’s really neat seeing how everyone’s embracing the bats,” said Hutchins as about four thousand people now come to the Bat Loco Bash. They have even had to take over both bridges over the river, closing two streets just to fit all of the bat enthusiasts.

And this year’s event was no different. With appearances by the Batmobile, Echo the Bat, and even Batman himself, hundreds of young and old alike got to join in on the batty fun and learn about the bats under the I-35 bridge. When asked how this year’s event stacked up against past celebrations, Hutchins adds, “This year’s event was the best ever!”