NIOSA Volunteers Who Give Life to the Party Every Year

Tuesday 20th, February 2018 / 14:04 Written by
NIOSA Volunteers Who Give Life to the Party Every Year

NIOSA Volunteers Who Offer Their Services Year After Year

There are volunteers and then there are  NIOSA volunteers who give their time and service year after year to make the magic of NIOSA happen.

“A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) is a four-night festival in the heart of downtown San Antonio that celebrates the city’s diverse cultural legacy for more than 85,000 revelers annually.  Through the magic of 200-plus food, drink and atmosphere booths; 13 continuous live musical acts; children’s games; decorations; souvenirs; and costumed volunteers, NIOSA brings the city’s heritage alive in 15 areas:  Mission Trail (early years of the San Antonio Missions); Arneson Theatre (amphitheatre built in 1941 into the natural curve of the city’s river bank); China Town; Clown Alley; French Quarter; Froggy Bottom (cultural contributions of African-Americans); Frontier Town; Haymarket (produce and livestock markets near San Fernando Cathedral during the city’s Spanish Colonial period); International Walkway (showcases different ethnic groups that developed San Antonio’s unique heritage); Irish Flats; Main Street USA; Mexican Market; Sauerkraut Bend; South of the Border (Northern Mexico influences); and Villa España (Spanish and Canary Islanders heritage).

Solely sponsored by and benefiting the San Antonio Conservation Society (one of the nation’s oldest and most active historic preservation organizations), the 70th presentation of NIOSA will be held Tuesday through Friday, April 24-27, 2018 during the city’s Fiesta San Antonio® celebration. NIOSA is the top fundraiser for historic preservation in the nation and truly lives up to its motto as a “Celebration for Preservation.”

NIOSA is put on by an army of 10,000 volunteers each year and produces far more revenue for historic preservation than any other event in the nation for the San Antonio Conservation Society.

For the past 69 years, NIOSA has provided almost the entire funds for the Society’s preservation activities.

All booths are run by volunteers, and all proceeds go to the Conservation Society: More than $800,000 is put back into the local economy by using local vendors and more than $450,000 in rental, permits and fees to the City of San Antonio.

Several of these 10,000 volunteers have been committed to the cause for many, many years. In fact, a few of them were honored last year for serving continuously, without fail, for the past 50 years. Here are profiles of a few that will be back this year for their 51st consecutive year.

Marvin & Karen Murray and Bill & Pamela Hockersmith:  The Pink Lemonade booth in Mexican Market has been the NIOSA domain of these two couples since they started volunteering together in 1967.  Two years later they took over the booth, which all four have chaired since.  Bill says working by the anticuchos booth “is perfect because people need something to drink after enjoying the spicy meat.”   Marvin shares: “we have met so many wonderful people, and know we are contributing to a very essential cause.”  These two couples are definitely in our “wonderful people” count, too!

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers –
Murrays and Hockersmiths

Ronnie Jaroszewski: For over fifty years, Ronnie has been a part of the Frontier Town family. Beginning his time with NIOSA in 1965, Jaroszewski has worked in the soft drinks, cantaloupe slices and jalapeño tamales booths and has chaired jalapeño tamales.  He is presently Chairman of Texas Bird Legs and is the Frontier Town Staging Chair.

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers – Ronnie Jaroszewski

–  Gene Willette:    Gene started volunteering one night in a beer booth, after which he vowed not to return.  Thank goodness, he changed his mind, because his volunteerism led him to become Area Chair of The Gilded Cage area for 9 years, where he helped stage other areas.  He did such a great job that, in 1987, he and Artie Dietel became the Staging coordinators of ALL of NIOSA.  As Staging co-chair, Gene directs the implementation of every booth, every prop, all electrical and plumbing, all deliveries and all choreography.  “The best thing about the 50 years is the volunteers that have become my friends,” Gene adds. “I am humbled that we ALL are part of the success of NIOSA and its great contributions to our city, from the one-night volunteers to those who have served 50 years.”  Gene, your dedication humbles us!

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers – Gene Willette

– Fran West: In 2018, Fran will be an advisor for Consolidated Foods.  If you know NIOSA, then you know Fran.  She is the consummate volunteer that always says yes—from finding volunteers to crack eggs at 3 a.m. in the morning, to making wonderful refreshments for the NIOSA Paint Parties.  A bonafide foodie, Fran’s involvement is key in the development or creation of many favorite booths and areas of NIOSA.  Her legacy includes serving as booth chairman for Shypoke Eggs; Area Vice Chair of Haymarket; Area Chair of Chinatown in its first years; leader of the Egg-Cracking at the Cowboy Breakfast; and now to her present position since the 1990s:  chairman of Consolidated Foods.  Fran modestly says “The past 50 years have been a fabulous journey,” to which we reply:  “the journey would not have been the same without you!”

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers – Fran West

– Judy Lynn:   Judy is a member of the NIOSA Hall of Fame for good reason.  Her NIOSA repertoire includes serving as booth chairman of Chili con Queso, Quiche Lorraine, Italian Meatball Sandwich, Pizza, Photo and NIOSITA booths; member of Decoration; and lately an oh-so-patient NIOSA office volunteer since 2003.    Her Conservation Society volunteerism includes being a Heritage Education Tour docent, and—for the 30 years—serving on the Membership and advance tickets mail-out Committees.  Judy says:  “I am honored and deeply humbled that I have a place in the NIOSA Hall of Fame.  I have beautiful memories that will remain in my heart forever.” 

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers – Judy Lynn

VOLUNTEERS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING: Every July, the Conservation Society elects a Fourth Vice President to serve as chairman for NIOSA (and NIOSITAs), a volunteer, unpaid position for a one-year term with option of one year re-election. Overseeing NIOSA this year as Fourth VP is Margie Arnold; she is ultimately responsible for everything from decorations to cascarones and security. And though she hasn’t volunteered for 50 straight years, this volunteer extraordinaire volunteers all year long as NIOSA Chairman.

NIOSA Volunteers

NIOSA Volunteers – Margie Arnold

As the NIOSA Chairman, Arnold volunteers her time all year to plan and coordinate the four-night event, assisted by four NIOSA vice chairmen Sharon Hearn, Dee Wright, Jana Foreman and Glenda Duffin, and NIOSA treasurer Jackie Fellers.

“How appropriate that our 70th anniversary coincides with the San Antonio Tri-Centennial, considering how integral the Conservation Society has been in the city’s history,” says Arnold.  “I am honored and excited to lead this wonderful group of dedicated, hard-working volunteers as we volunteer year-round to ensure the best possible event and also to raise funds through other private NIOSITA events throughout the year.  We do it because the proceeds provide resources to the Society for the restoration and rehabilitation of historic properties, and its education, outreach and assistance programs.”

Arnold has a lengthy history with NIOSA as a volunteer—most recently serving as a NIOSA Vice Chairman for three years from 2015-2017.  Prior to that she served as Area Vice Chairman of Haymarket for two years, and as a Vice Chairman and Area Chairman of Clown Alley for eight years.  She also volunteered in a souvenir booth, the Anticuchos booth, the Finance Room, and Surplus Foods.

She has served the Conservation Society in numerous capacities since she was elected to its Board of Directors in 2013. She served as its Treasurer for 2015-2016, and also has chaired the Advance NIOSA Member Ticket Mailout, Historic Preservation Month and Seminar, Properties Restoration and Utilization, and Community Building Grants committees.

After a 21-year stint in the Air Force, Arnold started working for the Conservation Society in 1998 as an independent contractor doing accounting work, which segued into the NIOSA bookkeeper position in 2000. When 9/11 occurred in 2001, she chose to serve her country again as a Department of Defense and Homeland Security contractor until 2015.

NIOSA Volunteers

Founded in 1924, the San Antonio Conservation Society is one of the oldest and most active community preservation groups in the United States. Beginning with efforts to prevent historic structures from being razed and to preserve such unique sites as the city’s Spanish Colonial missions, the society has been responsible for saving most of the historic attractions that now make San Antonio one of the top tourist destinations in Texas.  The Society was integral in the recent Missions’ nomination as an UNESCO World Heritage Site initiating the UNESCO nomination process in 2006 and continuing to support the nomination until its success in 2015.

For more information on NIOSA or NIOSITAs, visit or contact (210) 226-5188 or  For more information on the San Antonio Conservation Society, please contact the Society headquarters at (210) 224-6163 or visit  Follow NIOSA on Facebook.

In 2017, for the sixth year in a row, “A Night In Old San Antonio®” (NIOSA®) earned one of the top levels of certification from the City of San Antonio based on its Green Events Ordinance sustainable policies for medium and large-scale events.


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