San Antonio children and families invited to rekindle a tradition with San Antonio Fire Department, Institute of Texan Cultures

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio families are invited to help bring back a classic San Antonio tradition when the Institute of Texan Cultures and San Antonio Fire Department partner for the second annual Toy Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, December 1, at the museum.
Toy Day is reminiscent of a 1930s San Antonio tradition, when children received free admission to an area theater when they contributed a toy to the San Antonio Fire Department toy drive. The museum will do likewise, offering an afternoon of entertainment, free to children 12 and under, when they bring a new, unwrapped toy for the San Antonio Fire Department toy drive.
“As I began research for the ‘Timeless Texas Toys’ exhibit about a year ago, I came across images from the 1930s of San Antonio firefighters conducting a toy drive,” said Sarah Gould, lead researcher at the museum who has led the effort to revive the tradition. “There was such a sense of joy in the firefighters going about their duties, and in the faces of children participating and giving to the toy drive.”
The San Antonio Fire Department served an estimated 2,000 children last year. The department works through local school districts to identify families in need. The Toy Day event will include fire and EMS units on-site at the museum for exploration and discovery. Firefighters and Sparky the Fire Dog will be available to visit and offer safety tips for the holidays. Guests will have an opportunity to try on a firefighter’s bunker coat.
Inside the museum, the Institute of Texan Cultures has a day of activities planned. Guests can visit a series of craft stations, listen to story time readings, play games, watch cartoons on the museum’s huge Dome Theater screens, and enjoy cookies and milk.
Adding to the holiday experience, the “Timeless Texas Toys” exhibit has been updated with a model train set prepared by the San Antonio Model Train Association, and LEGO model inspired by downtown San Antonio, prepared by the Texas LEGO Users Group – San Antonio Chapter.
The museum is further adding to the holiday cheer with a small photo exhibit recalling Joske’s Fantasyland.
“We hope to spark just a glimmer of magic as we help San Antonio remember the amazing holiday traditions in its treasured past,” said Gould.
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit




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