The San Antonio Lutheran Coronation began in 1957 as a function of the Junior and Senior Leagues of St. John’s Lutheran Church. The first event was held in the church basement in the form of a Ball in which outstanding young ladies were honored. They wore evening gowns and selected their Queen the night of the Ball. No admission was charged, and parents and friends were invited to attend.
Each year, the Junior and Senior Leagues alternated in the production of the Ball. In 1959, the Junior Leagues’ turn was up, and their sponsor, Mr. Farrell Tyson, was asked to design something unique to accent the dresses. The girls wore long dresses and carried a handpiece symbolic of the subject they represented. This year, the Ball became a Coronation with a court of Duchesses. The theme of this first court was “The Court of Mardi Gras.” It was again held in the basement, then the youth floor. No admission was charged. Parents and friends were invited to watch the festivities, and the pageant was received with so much interest that space became a problem.
1960, the third-floor addition for youth activities was completed, and the Coronation was moved to that location. More elaborate stage sets were designed, and some girls wore costume-type long dresses that more closely carried out the theme. Others still wore evening dresses. The theme of this court was “The Court Waltztime.” 1960 was the first year the girls were fully costumed, and a visiting court was invited to be a part of the Coronation. They were from other Lutheran churches in San Antonio. The Queen and Princess were still to be chosen from St. John’s, the host church. A small admission was charged to defray costs. It was held in the newly completed dining hall of the church. After expenses, some money remained, and the League gave it to Lutheran Charities instead of keeping it for themselves.
In 1962, the church could no longer hold the crowds. It was then the Villita Assembly Hall was rented. In the next five years, it grew so much that it became necessary to move to Jefferson High School Auditorium in 1967.
In 1968, the Coronation was invited to have its program in the newly completed Convention Center during the Hemisfair year. It was presented at Jefferson High School until 1971 when it was moved to the Municipal Auditorium. Coronation was held here until a fire destroyed the building in January 1979. At that time, it was moved to The Theater for Performing Arts. In 1985, the Coronation returned to the newly remodeled Municipal Auditorium, where it has been held until 2013. During the reconstruction of the Municipal Auditorium, the Coronation event was held at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. In 2018, we moved to the Laurie Auditorium. In July of 1989, the San Antonio Lutheran Coronation Association voted to amend our by-laws to allow young people of any Christian faith to participate in the Coronation. It has become more elaborate each year until it is the spectacular event you enjoy today.
The Coronation was never meant to be a money-making event. It just happened to become a by-product. Admission is charged to defray production expenses, but the yearly profit realized from ticket sales and donations is given to Christian charities. Some of these have been Lutheran General Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Texas Lutheran College, Lutheran Social Services, youth camps, the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries, and various charities.
The primary purpose of the entire year’s activities is to offer an opportunity for our youth to serve as Christian witnesses and to be exposed to some of the social graces of our society. It is a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. If you were to ask a young Christian lady to describe an evening of elegance, excitement, and fantasy, her answer most likely would be “The Night I Participated As A Duchess In The Lutheran Coronation.”