Have you ever visited an unfamiliar city with high hopes of visiting all the famous sights you heard so much about, only to find yourself wandering around aimlessly, completely lost? Your GPS is useless and you can’t find a single soul to give you directions. Even worse, you find yourself in a part of town that could only be described as “unsavory.” Not the way you planned to spend your vacation.
Luckily, if you happen to be visiting downtown San Antonio you can rest assured that there are plenty of friendly folks looking out for you. Meet the Amigos. Easily recognizable in their canary yellow shirts and straw hats, the Amigos are an integral part of the Downtown Public Improvement District created in 2000.
Need directions to the Alamo? Trying to find the River Walk? Want to know which bus will take you to Midtown? The Ambassador Amigos are ready to help; on average they assist over a million people a year. They possess an extensive amount of insider knowledge about downtown and San Antonio in general and serve as information guides, safety escorts, and are even qualified to provide first aid assistance if necessary. The Ambassador Amigos can be readily found in high-pedestrian traffic areas and strategic locations throughout the Downtown District.
While the Ambassadors serve as the public face of downtown San Antonio, the Maintenance Amigos are dutifully working in the background, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They are tasked with the general upkeep of the District: picking up litter, scrubbing graffiti, pulling weeds, and performing the thankless but necessary jobs that keep downtown looking great. In a given year, they will pick up almost 700 tons of trash, remove 12,000 graffiti tags and 130,000 gum spots, and power wash 31 million square feet of sidewalk. So if you happen to run into a Maintenance Amigo during your visit, be sure to let them know they’re doing a wonderful job!
Have you noticed all the beautiful plants and flowers downtown? Thank the Streetscape Amigos. Taking a cue from the River Walk, the District has added over 600 planters on light poles, stair rails, and large planters throughout downtown’s public right-of ways. The Streetscape Amigos provide the planters and materials that soften downtown and enhance the pedestrian experience for the area’s many workers, residents, and visitors. They are also in charge of maintaining these improvements, which means watering, fertilizing, and replacing seasonal vegetation as necessary. In 2013 alone, the Streetscape Amigos planted 2016 bougainvilleas, 3360 pansies, and 3360 petunias, with plans to expand the scope of the program every year.
So the next you find yourself downtown, keep an eye out for the friendly people in the yellow shirts, even if it’s just to say “hi.” They’re here to help and they’re great at their jobs. After all, they’re not called the Amigos for nothing!
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