Thursday, May 23, 2019
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McAllen Performing Arts Center announces entertainment for Broadway in McAllen series

The McAllen Performing Arts Center and the McAllen Society for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce the 2019-2020 Broadway in McAllen season. This exciting season will feature Cats, Blue Man Group, Finding Neverland, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Rent.

The McAllen Live! Series will bring musical classics, family shows, and star attractions of all types, including We Will Rock You, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Jersey Boys, The Illusionists – Live from Broadway, and Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles.

You won’t want to miss a moment of the action! Beginning May 9, current Season Ticket Holders will be able to renew their Season Packages, and lock in the seats they had last season for another great year of entertainment at the McAllen Performing Arts Center.

Dates for some of the Broadway in McAllen line up are Cats, Friday October 18, 2019; Blue Man Group, Monday December 2, 2019; Finding Neverland, Tuesday January 28, 2020; Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Sunday March 15, 2020; and Rent, Tuesday April 28, 2020.

Dates for shows in the Live McAllen! Series are We Will Rock You, Saturday October 26, 2019; A Charlie Brown Christmas, Monday December 9, 2019; Jersey Boys, Tuesday March 3, 2020; The Illusionists, Sunday March 8, 2020; and Rain, Friday May 1, 2020.

The McAllen Performing Arts Center serves as a premiere venue for the performing arts in the Rio Grande Valley. Enhancing the range, quality and accessibility of cultural fare available to the public and promulgate arts education that contribute to the cultural life of McAllen, the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas and Northern Mexico.

“We believe the MPAC has dramatically enhanced our quality of life and offers new opportunities for cultural enrichment. The MPAC also allows us to raise the caliber of art education throughout the Rio Grande Valley, and in so doing stimulating the creative energy of our citizens, especially our children. To sum it up, I think we can say that in the city of McAllen, we believe that an investment in the arts is an investment in our future.” Yajaira Flores, Director of McAllen Convention Center Facilities.

This fiscal year the McAllen Performing Arts Center and Convention Center has generated $33.2 in million economic impact, hosting 221 events that brought over 287,000 attendees to the facilities.

The McAllen Performing Arts Center has five resident series including Valley Symphony Orchestra, McAllen Wind Ensemble and McAllen Community Concerts.
To learn more about all the exciting programming the McAllen Performing Arts Center has to offer please visit mcallenconventioncenter.net or visit www.facebook.com/McAllenPAC/.

Benefit concert held in Mission for DPS Trooper

STXSD ConcertAll proceeds will benefit Trooper Moises Sanchez; Eight bands lined up

Mission, TX- The City of Mission has teamed up with the South Texas Sheepdogs and several other local sponsors to host a music festival benefiting Texas DPS Trooper Moises Sanchez who was shot in the line of duty.

The event, dubbed STXSD Music Festival, will be held at 5x5 Brewing Company at 801 Bryan Road in Mission. Festivities will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, and run until 11 p.m.

There will be a stellar lineup of bands, food trucks, adult beverages, charity auctions and even a WWII airplane flyover. The event is free and open to the community, but there will be a suggested $10 donation box at the door. Proceeds from the concessions, food trucks, drinks and auctions will go directly to Trooper Sanchez and his family.

The outpouring for the law enforcement officer has been overwhelming in the Rio Grande Valley. Thousands are expected to show up to continue that support.

Mission Lions Club Market Days planned April 13

20190327 Mission Lions Market Days members vestsThe Mission Lions Club is planning their next Market Days event for Saturday, April 13.

Mission Lions Market Days is held on the second Saturday of the month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the newly renovated Leo Pena Placita Park in downtown Mission. The park is located at Conway Ave. and 9th Street (Business 83), across from H-E-B.

Mission Lions Market Days is a new outlet for artisans, craftsmen, artists and small businesses to sell their products with very little overhead.

The event will feature food, vendors, free Community Bingo games, door prizes and music for a festive, inviting atmosphere. Three free bingo games will be held hourly with nice prizes for the winners. The Mission Parks & Recreation Ballet Folklorico will perform at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

All of this is open to the public, and admission is free.

Non-profit organizations can also use the event to help raise funds for their group, receiving a special non-profit rate for a booth at Mission Market Days. Commercial booths are also be available for local businesses.

“We invite the entire community to come out and join the fun,” said Mission Lions Club President, Adela Ortega. “We are going to have bingo games every hour with lots of prizes to be awarded, music, folklorico dancers, arts and crafts items for sale, food and beverages, and much more. Come join us Saturday, April 13, at Leo Pena Placita Park in downtown Mission.”

The Mission Lions Club provides a wide range of services for the community, such as free eye glasses for school children, and the club performs hundreds of vision screenings for school children, helping detect vision problems at an early age. The club regularly builds wheel chair ramps for those who need one. In addition, the club supports the Texas Lions Camp for children with disabilities, the RGV Diabetes Association, the Mission Food Pantry and many other causes that benefit the community.

Ortega said the club hopes Mission Lions Market Days will become a way for the club to raise additional funds for the club’s charitable work. So, she invites the public to come out and support the club and the vendors who are participating.

For more information, to register as a vendor, or to reserve a commercial booth, contact Adela Ortega at 956-458-9066.

Red Hat Queen’s Council visits Iwo Jima Memorial

20190327 Red Hats Iwo jima Tour Lilly 2The Rio Grande Valley Red Hat Queen’s Council enjoyed its final outing of the year visiting the Iwo Jima Memorial in Harlingen. The ladies met at 10 a.m. to tour the museum and see the artifacts of the battle on display including weapons used in the battle, Japanese flags brought home by marines who fought in the battle, and pictures of the Medal of Honor winners who fought at Iwo Jima. Afterward, they watched a documentary that recounted the famous battle.

The Battle of Iwo Jima was fought February 19 through March 26, 1945. The purpose of the battle was to capture the two islands to use as a staging area for the invasion of Japan by Allied troops. The Japanese had built airfields on the islands the Allies hoped to use for landing and refueling in the planned invasion.

The Japanese had built underground tunnels on the island and almost all their soldiers were inside the tunnels shooting through open portals. This resulted in heavy American casualties going ashore. The Japanese fought to the last man and of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on Iwo Jima, at the end of the long battle only 216 were captured. The remainder were casualties of the battle.

One of the most noted features of the battle was the photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of Associated Press depicting Marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi. One of the men in the picture was Corporal Harlon Block of Weslaco, Texas who lost his life later during the prolonged battle.

Sculptor Felix de Weldon later spent years creating a memorial statue based on Rosenthal’s picture. The sculpture is now located in Arlington, Virginia near the National Cemetery located on a high ridge overlooking the capital. To do this he built a base statue used as a model for the Virginia statue. This model was later bronzed and placed on the campus of Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.

With his family’s permission, Block’s body was moved to the base of the memorial in Harlingen where visitors may pay tribute to this brave Marine and others who fought in this battle and all battles everywhere.

The Iwo Jima Museum and Memorial are located at 320 Iwo Jima Drive in Harlingen, just west of the airport.

Admission is free. For more information call (956) 412-2207.

In other action the queens met at Colleta’s in downtown Harlingen for lunch. Linda Howath of Go with Jo Tours came to talk to the ladies about the planned Caribbean cruise. The cruise is a seven-night cruise out of Galveston on Royal Caribbean on March 1, 2020. It will visit Cozumel and Costa Del Playa, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras.

Howath assured ladies their deposits were fully refundable until December and that the price includes medical insurance in cases of illness. Howath said she was keeping options open through the summer in case others decide they want to go. For more information about the cruise, call Howath at (956) 423-1446.

Jan Bergman announced the annual Festival of Tables will be held February 19 at Trophy Gardens in Alamo. Persons willing to decorate tables for the event should call Bergman at (956) 532-1223 or (956) 781-8485.

Carrying on the Loretta Pfeifer tradition

20190327 The Grove Food Bank Donation 1By Carol Austing
Activities Director
The Grove Park, San Juan

For a number of years, a sweet lady was in residence here in our park, The Grove Park in San Juan. She had a passion for feeding, always bringing hot, fresh, home-baked bread to every Happy Hour. She also made it her mission to beg, plead, and cajole our residents every Saturday morning to give, and give again for the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank. She shook her money jar and paraded up and down between tables until she was satisfied she had squeezed the group dry and then did it again the next week. She was tireless.

Loretta Pfeifer passed away a few years ago, and instead of just a check, I let the family know that I would be remembering their mother with a donation to the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank in her honor. The idea appealed to the family, and when I, as the Social Club Director here in The Grove, let her daughter, Ann Nyberg, know that we would continue to try to raise money to donate in Loretta's name through our meetings, she offered to match whatever we raised, and she set a cap of $500.00. So, now we had a goal. We have managed to meet and even exceed the promised matches, and in 2018, the Social Club decided to take the concept one step further. We turned our annual Soup Supper for park residents into a Free Will donation for the Loretta Pfeifer Memorial fundraiser to the Food Bank. It was such a success that we followed that up again this year. We turned our moneys from our recent efforts over to the Food Bank last week - and they were so grateful for our generosity. At our Saturday meetings, we collected $239.00. The Soup Supper netted $415.00. Our total of $654.00 was matched (even exceeded) with a total of $870.00. . . $670.00 from Loretta's daughter Ann, and a surprise check from one of Loretta's sons in the amount of $200.00.

We were told that the amounts we donated will provide nearly 7000 healthy meals.

(Editor’s note: This is what I love about Winter Texans. You do so much to share and care for others. I know the Food Bank and food pantries and so many other organizations greatly appreciate your generosity and your caring spirit. This is just one of the many ways you help make the Rio Grande Valley such a special place. Thank you!)

See You In The Fall

FromthepublisherIt’s hard to believe it’s that time of year already. We have had so much fun covering many of the activities and events for Winter Texans. Whether it’s Bean Bag Baseball at Country Sunshine, Donut Day at Bentsen Grove or the Rock ‘n Roll Jam at Green Gate Grove – and so many other activities held in the resorts – we’ve had a great time meeting you and covering some of your fun activities.

We’ve seen you at community events and festivals like the McAllen Holiday Parade, The Festival of Lights in Hidalgo, and the Texas Citrus Fiesta in in Mission. We’ve been right there with you when you enjoyed some great entertainment by the Wintertainers™ performing in your parks. Some of these included the Mollie B Show and Squeezebox Band, The Redhead Express, Rusty Rierson (Male Vocalist of the Year), Helen Russell & Company (Small Band of the Year), Spittin’ Image, Dave & Daphne (Entertainers of the Year) and many more.

We are happy that so many of you came out to the Valley Star Awards Show this year to see not only the awards being presented to the best of the best Wintertainers™ performing in the RGV this year, but to see live performance by many of your favorites and mine, including Rusty Rierson, Helen Russell & Co., Tavie Spivey and Shake, Rattle & Roll, Kai, Gene Turner (Mr. Pickpocket, Novelty Act of the Year) and the Williamson Branch. I’ve received many, many great comments from you, as you shared with me how much you enjoyed the show.

We are glad to see you are enjoying more new activities such as pickleball, RC (remote control car) racing and rock ‘n roll music in your parks. As some of you have told me, you’ll never be bored because there is always something going on in the parks – and in the community.

Thank you for choosing the Rio Grande Valley as your winter home. We know you chose us while there were certainly other options. It is so refreshing to hear how friendly the Valley people are – still, after all these years. I hope we never lose that.

Hopefully, you know how much you are appreciated when you come to Texas for the winter. Many of the cities here put on Winter Texan appreciation events, such as the Winter Texan Fiestas in Mission, Harlingen and Edinburg. You are important not only to our merchants and businesses, but you are a blessing to so many organizations through your community service and support. Many of you ladies make quilts and blankets for our hospitals, homeless shelters and our veterans. Just about every RV park has at least one park-wide charity fundraiser, helping out organizations like the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, the Vannie Cook Cancer Center, Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Haven International. We hear about so many different toy drives, meals, parties and other activities for the children during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays that we can’t keep up with them all.

That is what I appreciate most about Winter Texans. It’s who you are – the values you bring and your caring for others. You folks are simply good people. You bring such good things to the Valley and we would not be the same without you.
As this season closes and we look forward to you returning in the fall, we hope you will invite your friends and neighbors back home to come down and see what the Valley is all about. We want to thank all of you who have answered the call to become Winter Texan Ambassadors this year, sharing the good news with your friends and family.

With all the “bad news” about the violence in Mexico, some folks up north are afraid to come to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. But, as you obviously know, it is very safe here in the Valley. In fact, with thousands of additional law enforcement and Border Patrol personnel now assigned to the Rio Grande Valley area, officials say it’s safer than ever before.

So, we hope you’ll share the message with everyone back home. Tell them what a great time you had here this season, how wonderful the warm weather is and how affordable it is to stay in the Rio Grande Valley.

Ambassadors Wanted

Getting out and doing all the interesting things you can do in the “winter” in the RGV is always more fun when you do it with friends. So, we invite you to become a Winter Texan Ambassador and help bring more people down to enjoy our South Texas hospitality.

If you haven’t already “enlisted” in the cause, just pick up some extra copies of the Winter Texan Times so you can share them with your friends up north.

Thanks again for coming! We will surely miss you this summer and look forward to your return. Have a wonderful summer with your family and friends.

Winter Texans celebrate Canada Day at Riverside Club

20190305 CanadaDay Mission GU 4848Hundreds of Winter Texans joined the fun during the annual Canada Day celebration at the Riverside Club in Mission.
The celebration drew Canadians from seven provinces – and a few friends from the United States – on Tuesday, March 5.

The big room in the back was almost filled when the party officially started with Helen Russell and Company, the Valley Star Awards Small Band of the Year, providing lively entertainment. As time progressed, more and more Canadians arrived, and the room was filled to capacity. Winter Texans came from all across the Rio Grande Valley to join in the fun with their fellow Canadians.

Many of those attending were first timers from various provinces. However, others make it an annual tradition, like Yvon Bussiere of Ottawa, Ontario, who said he had been coming 13 years and enjoyed it every year.

With a little help from Helen Russell & Company, The Winter Texan Times did a quick survey of provinces asking Canadians to stand when Helen called out their province.

20190327 CanadaDay Mission GU 4654Ontario had the most in attendance, followed by Saskatchewan, Quebec, Newfoundland, Manitoba, British Colombia and Alberta.

The surprising thing this year was that many of those attending were first timers. While some of the newcomers were not wearing Canadian clothing and hats, I bet they will be back next year decked out in red and white and maple leaves, joining in the spirit of the celebration.

Some said this was their first time to attend a Canada Day celebration, but they were Riverside Club regulars, riding the pontoon boat and attending the dances hosted weekly at the club.

The folks attending were jovial and took turns waltzing and line dancing and visiting with friends. While quite a few waltzed, the line dancers filled the floor dancing to tunes like “Elvira.”

Gilles and Sharon Poulin were there with their American friends, Barb and Gerry Thorton. “We brought them because they shared the Uber bill,” said Gilles in jest.

Harold and Susie came because they said all their friends in the Valley are Canadians. “We love Canadians,” Harold added.

One Canadian requested the Canadian National Anthem be sung. Helen invited Gail Gulkin, Verna Funk and Ben McMurachy to lead the anthem as Canadians stood and joined in singing their tribute to Canada.

Afterwards, a tribute was made to John and Verona Nevis, who were celebrating their 67th anniversary. They are from Park Rapids, Minnesota but were dressed in red and seated with a whole table of Canadians from their park. The couple married at ages 17 and 18 and looked as if they were enjoying good health and might be on the dance floor for many years to come.

20190305 CanadaDay Mission GU 4863At a table with Canadians from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Patrick Weichel said he really enjoyed the event and wanted the Riverside Club owners to know how much it was appreciated that they took their time to honor the Canadians who spend their winters in the Rio Grande Valley.

Nearby, David and Linda Scott of Kingsville, Ontario, said their hometown is the southernmost town in Canada. It has the best climate in Canada because Lake Erie’s warm water makes the climate slightly warmer than in the north. But the weather still averages temperatures of 34 to 35 degrees in the winter. They definitely prefer the warm winters of South Texas.

It is always fun to see what the Canadians will be wearing at the annual Riverside Club celebration. Randy and Sharon Dupuis were decked out as he wore a red tie with a white maple leaf on it while she had a red T-shirt and cap with Canadian jewelry. One lady had a tall Dr. Seuss-style hat, while others wore caps, T-shirts, special earrings, and red and white bandanas depicting Canadian heritage.

With door prizes, great music, good food and lots of spirit, those attending had a great time whether it was their first time or if they had been coming for many years.

The Winter Texan Times wants to add our vote of appreciation to all our Canadian Winter Texans who come to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. We are glad to have you here and hope you are having a wonderful winter in South Texas. Be sure to tell your friends back home about all the fun times you’ve had in Texas. See you next winter!

Tourist Day celebration attracts thousands

20190327 TouristDay IMG 6995Winter Texans have good time in Nuevo Progreso

Thousands of Winter Texans poured across the Mexican border into the little border town of Nuevo Progreso, located just south of Weslaco, Texas, for the annual Winter Tourist Appreciation Day or Dia del Turista. The large parking lots on the U.S. side of the international bridge accommodated hundreds of cars, as most Winter Texans parked their cars on the U.S. side and walked the short distance across the bridge to the fiesta immediately on the other side.

Winter tourists filled the streets as they enjoyed band parades, two main stages with performances by mariachi groups and folklorico dancers, and street performers providing entertainment. The tourists were greeted with warm welcomes as this friendly little border town, famous for its hospitality, safety and easy access, rolled out the red carpet in appreciation.

20190327 TouristDay IMG 6611City officials and dignitaries from both sides of the border came out for the event to underscore the importance of tourism for the entire region. Many from the U.S. come to this small town, whose streets are lined with dentists’ offices, pharmacies and shops, to get dental work done, buy prescription drugs and purchase liquor and other items at prices much lower than in the U.S.

As tourists walked across the international bridge, Steve Sellnow and Connie Henry, of St. Cloud, Minn., stopped for a photograph at the international boundary line at the middle of the bridge. They are enjoying their first winter here in the Rio Grande Valley, and Steve explained what brought him to the Valley.

“I had friends I knew who stayed here and they had stayed in Arizona and Florida and came back here because the accommodations are nice, it’s a little more reasonably priced and friendly people.”

20190327 TouristDay IMG 6609He said he is renting a place this year in Paradise Park in McAllen that he has enjoyed.

“This is our first year... and it’s been really nice. Friendly people – the park we are in are just really nice people. It feels like we’re going to come back to this area for sure. Probably at Paradise Park next year.”

Betty Vermeer, of Nebraska, like many other Winter Texans, came out to this year’s Winter Tourist Day celebration with a bunch of friends.

“We’ve got a carload here today – actually two carloads,” she explained, as she was clearly enjoying the event. “This is my sixth fiesta (at Progreso) – I love it – the music, the dancing, the kids performing – once in a while a free margarita,” she chuckled.

20190327 TouristDay IMG 7080She said she comes to Nuevo Progreso at least once a month, “to go shopping, eat out. It’s a fun time.”

Larry and Ann McGuire, of Chester, Ill. and Tradewinds Resort in Mission, were enjoying the fiesta as they checked out the many vendors and shops with friends Richard and Julie Houck . Larry said, besides all the entertainment and eating at the Mexican restaurants in Progreso, “We enjoy coming for the camaraderie.”

“And we enjoy the bands marching through,” Ann added, referring to the parades held that day in Progreso.

When asked what he enjoyed about coming down to the Rio Grande Valley, Richard, who is from Cromwell, Minn., said, “We’re having a great time down here. We love the Valley; it’s better than shoveling snow!” Besides the warm weather, Richard said they also enjoy the fruit (citrus), the friendly people, and the music.

20190327 TouristDay IMG 7191“We love the music; my wife plays in a couple of the jams, and the people are really friendly down here. We really enjoy the people down here. And everything is so convenient and handy. Restaurants – man I love the restaurants,” he said.

Susan Thompson, of Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada, was effusive about how friendly the people are in South Texas. This is her first winter in the Rio Grande Valley and she was truly delighted at how welcoming the people are. “Here no matter where you go, people want to help you have a good time, and they appreciate you! It’s amazing! “This is our first time ever [coming to the Valley] and within two weeks we found a place to buy and live in. We’ll be back every year!” she said happily.

Museum exhibit features Mexican dresses

20190320 MHM Sister City Chinelos Costume courtesySpecial to Winter Texan Times

A new exhibit opens this week at Mission Historical Museum. The special exhibit, “The Traditions and Culture of Mexican Textiles & Designs,” incorporates seven beautiful Mexican dresses, each representing a different region in Mexico. The dresses are part of a cultural exchange through Mission’s Sister City program.

“This exhibit is beautiful and one of a kind in the Valley, created to develop a learning experience for everyone to appreciate and enjoy,” said Cynthia Stojanovic, director of Mission Historical Museum.

The City of Mission has been a partner in Sister Cities International since 1993 and currently has relationships with 24 Sister Cities from Mexico, Panama and Guatemala.

The exhibit examines the distinctive styles of dress for each region represented, including the artistic elements, the area’s products, architecture and lifestyle reflected in the dresses’ unique designs.

Sister Cities International was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to foster friendship, peace and prosperity between people from different cities around the world.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Mission’s Sister Cities Committee, and generous donors to the museum. The exhibit opened Feb. 26 and will continue through April 2019. Admission is free to the public. Museum hours are Tuesday thru Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Paradise Park Quilters honor veterans

20190320 Veterans Quilts Paradise Park DSC02286In honor of the veterans of Paradise Park in McAllen, the Paradise Quilters hosted a veterans’ quilt presentation on January 26. Fifteen quilts were presented to veterans in the park during a program that included a dedication thank you poem by Barb and Greg Foster, singing of “God Bless America” by Ginger Engels accompanied by Dwight Brackman. Veterans of all ages were honored this year and the program will continue until all veterans in the park have received an appropriate thank you and a quilt in their honor.

Veterans honored this year included: Jerry Baldwin, Navy; Edward Boehmer, Jr., Air Force; Mark Campbell, Ohio National Guard; Sharlene Campbell, Air Force; William Ernst, Army; Steve Frankowski, Navy; Dennis Frisch, Air Force; David German, Navy; David Harston, Army; Marnae Krueger, Army; Warren Lee, Army; Al Mahowald, Navy; Dickie Parkridge, Navy; Paul Vassallo, Army; and Carole Zarling, Army.

Harlingen Flower Show marks 50th anniversary

HARLINGEN–The Harlingen Flower Show has been showcasing beauty for 50 years with an annual show open to the public.
March 23 and 24 is the weekend for this year’s show which will be at the Harlingen Cultural Arts Center, 576 ’76 Drive, next to the Harlingen Public Library.

Exceptional horticulture specimens will be judged and on display. Exhibit categories also include Wild Native Blooms, Floral Designs, and Artistic Crafts. Houseplants and native plants will be available for purchase and garden-related items will be included in a raffle.

PowerPoint presentations will be at 2 p.m. each day. Saturday, Frank Wiseman will present “Landscaping with Natives to Attract Wildlife.” Sunday, Christina Mild will present “Edible Native Plants.” Lecture seating is limited and available on a first come basis.

Wiseman and Mild are native plant specialists and knowledgeable Texas Master Naturalists. They volunteer weekly at Harlingen’s Hugh Ramsey Nature Park where they teach volunteer team members about native plants and the animals they support. They will share their many years of experience in promoting and establishing native species in their own home yards and elsewhere.

The flower show is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. both days. Admission is free. Donations will be gladly accepted.

Bentsen Grove Resort Line Dancers Hold Marathon

20190320 Bentsen Grove Dance A Thon PeggyCreach 1403Line Dancers at Bentsen Grove Resort recently held a charity marathon to benefit the Cinderella Pet Rescue located in Palmview.

Intermediate and advanced dancers took to the floor at 9 a.m. under the direction of their instructor, Mary Lou Lane. They were quickly joined by beginning dancers and ultra beginning dancers taught by Mary Messerli and Jodee Taylor.

Dancers danced, in tag-team fashion, throughout the morning. Teams challenged and supported each other with team cheers and chants. Visitors came to witness the event and recognize the efforts of individual dancers with cash donations.

Prior to the event, each dancer worked hard during the month of February to solicit donations from resort residents, family members, and friends. True to the park’s reputation as generous and friendly, over $2,000 dollars was raised!

The Cinderella Pet Rescue is a non-profit, no-kill shelter which rehabilitates and places unwanted pets out for adoption. Bentsen Grove’s donation was much appreciated as the shelter was operating at capacity.

Canada vs USA All-Star games close out season

20190320 Baseball IMG 4065League Commissioner Ed Martens retires – maybe

It was only fitting that the sun came out at Westside Park during the annual Senior Texan Softball All-Star Games.

Not only did it shine, but it seemed to shine even a little brighter around Ed Martens. Martens, from Minnesota, is the father – the creator – of the Senior Texan Softball League and All-Star Game. The players call him “Commissioner.” He has worked (even though he's retired) endlessly during those two-plus decades, promoting a sport he loves, a game he's played for decades.

But this is his last year – oh, he'll still be around (there's no way you can tear him away from a passion that is as close to him as his own skin) but more in an advisory role, so he says.

20190320 Baseball Marten IMG 4223He's 86 years old now and uses a softball bat to help him walk on a gimp ankle that he said he may have to go home to Minnesota early to have taken care of. He played softball for 28 years back home, until he needed a new shoulder; he also played until about two or three years ago in the Valley, the shoulder again giving him problems.

But Martens is more than a softball player, he's softball personified – from playing to coordinating to making sure everything is done. He said his floor at home in his Winter Texan park's RV is covered with papers, all softball related. His phone rings endlessly with questions about the teams and league.

Two games took place this year at Westside Park and the annual Canada vs USA friendly contests were dominated by the Canadian teams. They won the first game, a more competitive game, 8-6 and rolled in the latter game “something like 13-2,” Martens said. “But they are both just friendly games. There were even three guys from the U.S. in the first game on the Canada side. It's all about being able to play and having fun.”

Easy plays were fumbled, tough plays were made and Canada fans heavily outweighed USA fans, donning the maple-leaf flag. However, many fans were fans of both, enjoying hot dogs, laughing at the silliness some plays turned into and, cheering for the success of both teams.

All this lies on the shoulders of Martens, who was asked those 25 years ago to help start a league – and he took it to heart. Yet, he never takes credit for the big role he plays in putting the league together.

He said last week's event seemed a little strange.

20190320 Baseball IMG 3958“It's the last one,” he said, his eyes never leaving the field as he watched the two teams battle it out. “I'll help out a little with the Monday/Wednesday group and build that and get more players and we'll start the league in November.”

He has plans, however, plans to do things he hasn't done with regularity for some time.

“I want to start biking more, I like that,” he said. “And we have two pools at the park, and I'll go to South Padre or San Antonio for a week maybe here and there if I just want to get away. The guys who will run the committee for the softball league are very capable and will be able to handle it.

“I'm not going to interfere – but if they need my advice, they can always call on me.”

Still, everyone who knows Ed knows that softball will be within a softball bat's reach from him. He's already devising a plan to get more softball players next year – hit 'em up early.

20190320 Baseball IMG 4106“I’m in an RV park that has probably 80 activities or more,” he said. “Pickleball is incredibly popular and now there’s beanbag baseball, and darts are getting very popular again and they don't have to leave the park to have this competition.

“So we're going to try to get them as soon as they get to the Valley. Maybe we can gain some interest before they settle and commit to a certain routine.”

Many of the players have been involved with the league and have played several times in the all-star game. Ken Subbert, of Iowa, said he enjoys playing not only because of the camaraderie but also because it provides him some exercise. He made some good plays for the U.S. in the second game.

Cindy Ellis, who stays at Wagon City South, was there to watch and support two players – one from each team. She said not only does she enjoy watching the games but it's yet another fun event to spend time with friends and make new ones. “It's always different, every year,” she said. “But everyone has a good time – plus we're not back home where it's still terribly cold and snowing.”

20190320 Baseball IMG 4190Temperatures reached the low 80s on this day – a near perfect day for softball. Meanwhile, back in St. Paul, Minn., the high was 38 and the low was 15. On March 2 in Denver, the high was 6 and the low was -6, making it the coldest March day in Denver since March 12, 1880. Nearly everyone we asked wasn't in any rush to head back north, many saying they would return in mid-April.

Martens remembers playing South Texas softball before the Senior Texan League was established. Only three parks were playing then, he said – Tip 'O Texas, Tropic Star and Bentsen Grove. That's when he took over and opened it for everyone.

“We had players coming from Edinburg, La Joya, Mission and even Harlingen,” he said. “Now we're hoping to get five teams for the league next year. It's funny, during all these years, all the people have been nothing but nice. I've put a lot of time in it and never really had a problem with any of them.

“I'm going to miss that contact with them.”

Thank You for Coming!

FromthepublisherFirst, I want to say, “Thank you!” to all of you who came down to the Rio Grande Valley this year. I know many of you are already packing up your cars and RVs and heading north – though for the life of me I can’t figure out why when the weather up there is still so cold.

On behalf of our local communities, the mobile home and RV parks, our advertisers and the many, many local businesses who depend on your patronage each winter, thank you for choosing the Valley as your winter home. We have enjoyed meeting so many of you at many different activities and events this season, and I am always amazed at your generous, caring spirit as you reach out to help so many of those in need in our area. I love your patriotism, respect for the flag and the way you honor our veterans.

We could not ask for better friends and neighbors. God speed – and come back and see us soon!

We will publish one more issue of the Winter Texan Times on March 27, which will wrap up the 2018-19 season. But we’ll be back in October to kick off another season. See you then!

---JB---

We’ve been getting phone calls from folks asking when the annual Winter Tourist Appreciation Day will be held in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico this year. The date is tomorrow, March 21. This is the 43rd annual Tourist Day festival that is planned each year by the merchants and city officials of Nuevo Progreso to express their appreciation to Winter Texans who patronize their businesses.

The event officially kicks off at 9 a.m. as officials from both sides of the border meet at the middle of the Progreso bridge. This is followed by entertainment presented on a stage usually featuring mariachi music and folkloric dancers, in a classic Mexican fiesta celebration. The main street of the small town of Nuevo Progreso are blocked off for the street party.

Considered by many to be the safest border town south of the Rio Grande, at least along the Texas border, Nuevo Progreso’s main street is lined with dentists’ offices, pharmacies and shops where many Winter Texans go for bargain prices on dental work, prescriptions and other items.

Most folks who go will park on the U.S. side and walk across the bridge to the shopping district, which is very close by. Don’t forget to take your passport.

Texas Onion Fest celebrates 30 years

20190320 Onion Fest Onionblossom PR 0026The 30th Annual Texas Onion Fest will be held Saturday, March 23 at Mayor Pablo Peña City Park, celebrating a milestone year as Weslaco’s trademark event.

Texas Onion Fest celebrates the development of the world famous Sweet Texas Onion which was developed in Weslaco at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Originally called the 1015 onion, the name came from the suggested planting date, October 15. The festival brings the community together for a fun-filled day of live music, dancing horses, car show, onion eating contest, cooking demonstrations and so much more. The festival is just one of the many attractions Weslaco has to offer, and reminds the community of Weslaco’s agricultural achievement.

On Saturday, live entertainment is scheduled all day. Attendees will enjoy the sounds of country, oldies, and salsa music during the day. In the evening, attendees can enjoy crowd favorite Bo Garza and Texas Dezire and tribute band Siempre Selena.

Texas Onion Fest’s milestone anniversary lands on another milestone year for the community, Weslaco’s 100th birthday. The Weslaco 100 Committee has been busy planning the festivities that take place all year, leading up to the big celebration in December.

20190320 Onion Fest CarShow“It’s so meaningful to be celebrating not one, but two milestones for Weslaco this year,” remarked Laura Espinoza, Marketing Director for the Weslaco Chamber. “Texas Onion Fest is just one of the many things that makes Weslaco special and we can’t wait for everyone to come enjoy the festival.”

This year, Texas Onion Fest will have a guest speaker talking about Dr. Leonard Pike and his contribution to the agriculture industry .
“We’ll be featuring a guest presenter from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service,” adds Espinoza. “We’re excited to highlight the very reason we celebrate Texas Onion Fest. I know our guests will enjoy learning about Dr. Pike’s legacy as well.”

GATE ADMISSION
Gates open Saturday at 9 a.m.
$6 for adults, $4 for children

PARKING / GATE ENTRANCES
Parking is free. Gate entrances are located at Airport Dr. and Dolores Huerta Blvd.

HANDICAP PARKING
The east side parking lot near Airport Drive is designated for vehicles with handicap permits.
No outside food or beverages, pets, or weapons.
For more information, contact the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce at 956-968-2102 or visit www.weslaco/onionfest.

Mollie B Show packs the house

20190320 Mollie B IMG 6527The Mollie B Show was absolutely delightful. Although I was not really into polka music when I went to see Mollie B and the Squeezebox Band perform at Bentsen Grove Resort last week, I just became a fan! And the packed house of Winter Texans attests to the popularity of Mollie B, the band and polka music.

During the intermission at last Wednesday’s show, Sharon Olund, of North Ranch, Minn. said, “We’re big fans, we really like her,” said Sharon, who spends her winters at Bentsen Grove.

Literally everyone I spoke to at the show was just thrilled with the performance and the chance to see Mollie B in person. A lot of the band’s notoriety comes from the band’s highly popular show, the Mollie B Polka Party that’s aired on RFD-TV.

“We watch RFD-TV a lot and we see her on RFD,” said Shirley Kltsa, from Mora, Minn. Shirley added, “She’s so energetic. Wow!” as she tried to describe the performance at Bentsen Grove, adding that she loves polka and grew up dancing the polka.

It seems she was in good company, as Gwen Johnsen, of Mora, Minn. shared, “We are just thrilled to be able to come watch Mollie B in person. I’ve seen her on RFD a lot of times, and I’m from Wisconsin originally – from polka land—when Myron Floren and all those guys were around. Both George and I used to dance a lot... and so we polka’d a lot. It’s fun to hear.”

20190320 Mollie B IMG 6475When I asked Myrtle Lombard, a Winter Texan from Foreston, Minn. (near St. Cloud) if it was worth coming out to see the Mollie B Show, she replied, “You betcha! We watch her every Saturday night on RFD. I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I enjoy this so much tonight.”


 
Mollie B’s fan club includes a whole lot more people than just Winter Texans. The Mollie B Polka Party was broadcast on RFD-TV to over 60 million households, including at least one very special person, as Mollie explained.

“Last March, I got a call from Warner Brothers. The call went something like this: ‘Hi, Mollie. We have a new movie coming out. Our director is a fan of yours; he watches the Mollie B Polka Party every Saturday night... So, Clint would like you to be in his new movie.’”
“Sure enough folks, Clint Eastwood watches the Mollie B Polka Party!” Mollie exclaimed.

The movie, called “The Mule” directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, hit the theaters Dec. 14, 2018.

Next, Ted Lange, Mollie’s husband and highly accomplished accordionist, announced the band’s next song would be the song they wrote for the movie: “A Day to Say Thank You.” And he dedicated the song to “all the veterans out there.”

While Mollie B’s talent and credentials are remarkable, Ted is a very talented musician in his own right. (They have received too many awards to mention in this article.) Together, along with band members Joe Poper (guitar, banjo, clarinet, vocals) and Dana Lindblad (drums, percussion), they bring a lively, highly entertaining show to the stage, to the delight of their audiences. This is what entertainment is supposed to be – when you walk away, after staying until that very last song, not daring to miss a moment of the experience, and you say, “Wow! That was fantastic! What a great show!”

20190320 Mollie B IMG 6546For the uninitialed who may ask, “So what’s so great about Mollie B and the Squeezebox Band?” my answer is simply this: Go to one of their shows and you’ll find out. They’ll knock your socks off. The Squeezebox Band, featuring Mollie B and Ted Lange performs many different genres of music. Yes, they do great polka, but their shows include other styles of music, often featuring Mollie B’s exquisite voice and polished performances on the trumpet, saxophone and keyboard. Her performance of songs like “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and The Sound of Music’s “Maria” entranced the audience as her beautiful voice resonated throughout the hall. Their shows are truly artistic performances that are highly entertaining as almost every song adds a different dimension to the experience. Mollie plays more than a dozen different instruments, adding depth to the foundation of Ted’s amazing accordion skills and the other band members sharing the spotlight.

For more information about the band, Mollie B and Ted, visit their website at https://www.squeezeboxband.com/the-band. And don’t miss their show. They’ll be back in the Valley next year with just two shows planned as part of their Texas tour, one on Jan. 28 at Tip O Texas in Pharr, and the other on Jan. 29 at Bentsen Grove Resort in Palmview (Mission).

Welcome to Texas!

FromthepublisherWelcome to our Take Home Edition of the Winter Texan Times. In this edition we want to share some of the reasons more and more retirees are choosing the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as their winter home. As they seek a warmer climate, they also enjoy the warm, friendly people who make their winters much more fun and enjoyable. We have invited those who currently spend their winters in the Rio Grande Valley – we affectionately call them “Winter Texans” – to take a few copies of this edition to share with their friends back home.

If you are retired, or are planning your retirement, we invite you to take a look at the Rio Grande Valley as your winter escape from the cold winters up north. Come to South Texas where the warm, subtropical climate, the friendly people, and the low cost of living come together for a wonderful lifestyle that enables you to truly enjoy your retirement. You’ll quickly find that you look forward to those winter months as you discover how easily you make dozens of new friends as soon as you arrive at one of our many Winter Texan mobile home and RV resorts.

You’ll enjoy the resort amenities, such as swimming pools, pickleball courts, and large recreation halls where the resort activity directors plan a wide range of activities for the resort residents. Our Winter Texan friends keep coming back every year to enjoy playing golf, RC racing, pickleball, shuffleboard, petanque, bocce ball, cards, pool, softball, quilting and crafts. Did I mention dancing and music? Whether your preference is country, rock ‘n roll or bluegrass, we have many great entertainers who come from Branson and Nashville to perform at the resorts and parks in South Texas during the winter – and the prices here are a real bargain, averaging $7-$8 per show.

Concerned about safety? I know you may have concerns with all the news about the border wall and immigration, but I assure you South Texas is certainly as safe as, or safer than, just about anyplace in the U.S.A. We have a very strong presence of law enforcement that greatly deters crime, much more so than any other area I know. We feel very safe. Just ask your friends who spend their winters here and they will allay any concerns you may have. Many, many Winter Texans love to go to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico to shop, dine, buy prescription drugs at very low prices, and get their dental work done for a fraction of the U.S. prices. Mexico is still a big draw for many of our visitors.

Come check out the Rio Grande Valley and find out for yourself what keeps bringing folks back to Texas year after year. We love our Winter Texans! Welcome to Texas!

It’s Safe in the Rio Grande Valley

20190313 Mission Police Chief Robert Dominguez courtesyFor decades, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas has been a favorite destination for retirees from the Midwest and Canada looking to head south for the winter to escape the snow, ice and cold, harsh weather. In addition to the warm, semi-tropical climate here in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), Winter Texans frequently tell us they enjoy the friendly people here, the many activities available to enjoy in the mobile home and RV parks and resorts, and the camaraderie with other Winter Texans who spend three to six months in South Texas each winter.

Besides the warm weather, they come because it’s fun!

Read more: It’s Safe in the Rio Grande Valley

There’s no better place to winter than the Rio Grande Valley

20190313 Larry MainzLarry Mainz loves the Rio Grande Valley.

He and his wife, Jan, became Winter Texans seven years ago. He fondly calls the Valley, “Disney for old people.”
He says people need to know that “there's no better place. If you don't like living here, you're not going to like living anywhere.”

“Not enough people know about the Valley,” said the Wisconsin resident who spends the winters with his wife in Lamplighter Park in Palmview. “This place is a paradise. We have traveled a lot and still do. But we love the Mexican culture here, love the family ideals, the friendly people at the park – there are no better people in the world than in the Valley.

“People need to know that.”

A Navy veteran who later drove trucks all over the country for a living started researching where he and Jan could go during the winter months. He posted the question to his friends and on social media – Texas or Florida?

“People said 'go to Florida if you want beaches,'” Larry said. “For friendly people, go to Texas.”

Even then, the couple in their motorhome made the trip to Houston, which was part of a regular route Larry would drive while trucking (Houston to Chicago). He was somewhat familiar with the area, but it was still not what they were looking for.

“People were telling me about the Valley – some were saying don't go – but they were saying it was 10 to 15 degrees warmer daily,” Mainz said. “So I was playing around on the Internet and saw it was close to a Miami climate – and Miami was straight across to the East. We came, we bought a mobile home and we fell in love with the Valley.”

Mainz said that there's a lot of incorrect information circulated about the Valley and he wants people to know the truth. He's always sharing things about the Valley with his friends, inviting them to come down for the winter, including one of his friends who moved to Weslaco last year.

“I don't think enough people know about the Valley, or they hear stories that are negative – ‘it's too windy, the border is bad.’ We live here, we go to Mexico. All of that just isn't true,” he said.

The couple enjoys going to different activities, especially jams and other shows. Jan also plays cards – lots and lots of cards.

“They'll have dinners here two nights a week before the jams or shows and we love that,” he said. “We love country western shows, any type of old country and old rock from the 50s and 60s and we go to a show every night of the week.”

As the time draws near to pack up and head back north, they plan to take their time on a leisurely trip back to Wisconsin.

“We appreciate being called Winter Texans,” Mainz said. “This is a storybook place and I just get goosebumps when I talk about this place to people. I told my wife 'I don't want to go home this year.’

“She told me, 'you are home.'”

You’ll receive a warm welcome in Texas!

20190313 WT Friendly Progreso Winter Tourist Appreciation Day MOERING DSC 0445Alan Johnston remembers coming to the Rio Grande Valley from Minnesota 29 years ago.

One of the first things Johnston saw were signs that said “Welcome Back Winter Texans.”

After the couple's unimpressive experiences in Arizona and Florida the previous two seasons, the warm welcome in South Texas was just what they needed. The friendly people here made them feel right at home.

“We went to Florida first and the people on the East Coast, they were too much, and the ones on the West Coast said, ‘When are you going to go back to Minnesota.'” Johnston said while the couple enjoyed BorderFest in Hidalgo. “Then the next year, we went to Phoenix, and we couldn’t get a place to park our motorhome unless we were going to stay for a month. That snobbishness didn’t appeal to us.”

20190313 WT Friendly DARLENE NEELAs new Winter Texans get situated in their park, they are already making new friends. Those open arms and friendly, caring faces are a big reason that Winter Texans stay, and share word of how much they enjoy their new – or returning – winter home.

Larry Boggs, a Winter Texan who hails from Branson, Mo. said, “They welcome you with open arms from the moment you get here. We have made so many friends here. We have more friends here than we do back home.”

“We've been to Florida,” said Darlene Neel, of Tinley Park, Ill., as she and her husband spent last winter at Chimney Park in Mission. When they were looking for a place to move, they checked out both Florida and Arizona – and the decision to come to South Texas was an easy one. “It's not anywhere near as friendly [as Texas].”

Chris Carney is a veteran who stays at Mission Canyon Lake Resort. He took on a position with the Air and Marine Division of Border Patrol and was told about these “campgrounds” by his supervisor. He started researching and found Canyon Lake. Before he unpacked, a neighbor came over and the two started chatting.

20190313 WT Friendly LARRY BOGGS“He took no time to come over and introduce himself,” Carney said. “I really am enjoying it here – the people and the owners and administrators are terrific.”

Johnston said the friendliness isn't limited to the folks in the parks, but it is just a part of the local culture in the community as well. He said it feels very much like that Midwestern hospitality that he's used to.

“We went to buy a piece of jewelry and the gal that was working at the retail desk said, ‘There’s one on the Internet that costs the same amount that’s got twice as much grams of gold,” he said. “That’s the kind of service that we saw 28 years ago in the Valley and it’s still here.

“We love it because it’s not a (typical) tourist area; it’s a place that we feel very comfortable and people have the Midwest values. God bless the Valley! We just love it here!”

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