Monday, December 04, 2023
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IMAS is aglow with Christmas trees

20191211 imas trees 01The International Museum of Arts and Science (IMAS) is aglow until January 4, 2020 with Christmas Trees lining their welcome hall. Over two dozen trees that have been decorated by local school and community groups with blasts from the past.

As a nod to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing and the popularity of the Space Age, this year’s theme for the Christmas trees is Nostalgic Christmas of the 60s and 70s. School and community groups were encouraged to incorporate science, technology, engineering, art and science along with a spirit of goodwill in their decorating of their tree.

The trees feature things that were big during the 60s and 70s that included themes like peace, music, toys, and space.

Each tree featured handmade ornaments. Trees with music themes displayed vinyls with The Beatles, and other popular music from the era. The toy trees had items like Rubix Cube and Etch-a-Sketch on them.

All the trees are quite playful with their theme and especially unique.

The museum is located at 1900 W. Nolana in McAllen. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Christmas Tree Extravaganza in Harlingen

20191211 harlingen trees 01Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum is all alit with Christmas. This year the museum has over 50 Christmas trees that are on display. The display officially opened with a reception on December 5. The exhibit will be open through December 29.

You are greeted by displays of Christmas trees and snow blankets as you enter the museum. A large, tall tree stands in the entry hall as you open the double doors into the main area of the museum.

There are two rooms, one on either side of the main hall, that are filled with lights and decorations. They are beautifully lit and tell a story of each organization that took part in the decorating.

Local organizations, business, girl scout troops, and others, put their hands in decorating the trees with a myriad of colors, glass ornaments, and homemade ornaments to symbolize what they stand for.

Several of the girl scout troops trees have their different merit badges they can earn. Businesses have items that signify what they do. Others were all decked out in one color or another showing their support for Alzheimer’s or breast cancer awareness.

Each tree had something different and unique to it.

There is one tree that has symbols on it representing different meanings – with a plaque behind it telling you what each symbol means. Some trees were hung on the wall – a different form of decorating, unique and individualized.

Nothing brings the Christmas cheer and brightness like a fully lit up tree on Christmas morning – and although it doesn’t have to be Christmas morning to enjoy these trees, they bring that same joy.

The exhibit will be on display until December 29, so make sure to take a drive on out there and visit the museum and their grounds. The outside buildings – Lott’s house, an old hospital, and others – are also decked out with Christmas decorations.

The museum is located at 2425 Boxwood St., in Harlingen. No admission or fees are necessary, but monetary donations are appreciated. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Razz Ma Tazz: developing bonds; producing music

20191211 razz ma tazz 01What happens when wishes are granted; when people’s fantasies become fiction?

In the upcoming Razz Ma Tazz performance entitled “Into the Woods,” several scenarios will be explored. But before the McAllen Nikki Rowe sing and dance group flies off to fantasy land, they still have some Christmas cheer to spread. And very few high school groups in the Valley can do it as cheerfully as Razz, a group made up this season of 20 incredibly talented high school students.

The group is well known for taking their Christmas show on the road to Winter Texan parks and resorts all along the Valley. As one group of seniors graduate, another group of first-year participants, many of them a little shy after reaching such heights, step into place.

As with other extracurricular groups from sports to academic groups, the bonds within these groups are what keeps them going.

“The Christmas show is a high energy show with 20 students involved,” said director Joshua Watkins, who started with the program in August and the group immediately began rehearsing. “They are very polished for this part of the season.”

Songs such as “Merry Christmas Darling,” “Baby it’s Cold Outside” and “Come Home for Christmas,” are just a taste of the fun holiday tunes the group, which has been performing for 29 years, brings onstage.

“There’s quite a bite of harmony that sounds excellent,” Watkins said.

The group also has pieced together some medleys that are quite entertaining. “Swing Into Christmas” is a three-song piece that includes parts of “Silver Bells” among other songs.

Everything builds up to an energetic and exciting grand finale, a medley of a dozen or so songs in an arrangement called “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.”

“It’s a very long medley, about eight minutes,” Watkins said. “It’s a big finish.”

Right after the big finish that marks the end of the season, Razz will dance their way onto “Into the Woods.” Unlike the Christmas show that goes on the road, these performances will take place at Nikki Rowe High School Jan. 18-21 and Jan. 24-25.

“It’s a mishmash of several different fairy tale characters like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk,” Watkins said. “It interweaves all the different story lines in a unique way where each character has a wish they want. That’s the first act.

“In the second act we see what happens after they get their wish. It goes from a Fairy Tale to reality. It’s very unique.”

Tickets are still available for “Into the Woods.” Call (956) 632-5152 for more information or visit RoweTheatre on Facebook.

Following are the remaining Christmas Shows for Razz Ma Tazz:
Dec. 14 Tip O Texas, 7 p.m.; Dec. 15 Pleasant Valley, 2 p.m.; Dec. 15 Valley View Estates, 7 p.m.; Dec. 16 Aladdin Villa, 7 p.m.; and Dec. 17 Trophy Gardens, 7 p.m.

Evening of holiday fun with the McAllen Wind Ensemble

20191211 wind ensemble vocal 03The McAllen Wind Ensemble continues their 45th anniversary celebration with an evening of magical holiday fun. The December 20th event entitled “Tinsel and Tutus” will feature another of McAllen’s artistic institutions, the Deborah Case Dance Academy.

Dancers from the Deborah Case Academy will be featured in the holiday concert performing selections from Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker Ballet to the McAllen Wind Ensemble’s live performance of the suite. The Wind Ensemble will also feature the unforgettable voice of Alberto Escobedo, the Singing Barber of Rio Grande City. Alberto Escobedo will lend his stirring vocal abilities to Schubert’s “Ave Maria” on Friday evening’s concert.

Alberto Escobedo has earned the reputation as the Singing Barber of Rio Grande City. He has not received formal vocal training after his high school experience, but his talent is a true testament to the strength and quality of the Rio Grande City Fine Arts Department. Alberto is also an active member in the community. He is the driving force behind Casa de Esperanza. Casa de Esperanza serves as a soup kitchen, and the building serves as a shelter for the homeless when needed.

No McAllen Wind Ensemble holiday concert would be complete without a Christmas carol sing-along. Alberto and the McAllen Wind Ensemble’s own Annabelle Zapata will lead the audience in a medley of favorite Christmas carols.

The McAllen Wind Ensemble is excited to host the Ballet’s encore performance of several of the dances from the world’s favorite Christmas ballet and vocalist Alberto Escobedo.

“Tinsel and Tutus” will be held December 20 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. Tickets, starting at just $10, are available at the McAllen Performing Arts Center Box Office, through Ticketmaster, or at the door. Visit their website at for more information.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with music starting at 7:30 p.m. Pictures with Santa and ballerinas will be available before the concert.

Come share the wonder and traditions of Christmas joining family and friends at the South Pole of Texas. Celebrate the 24th day of the City of McAllen’s Winterfest with the magic of holiday music!

Paradise Park residents sharing their blessings

20191211 paradise park bless 01Residents at Paradise Park in Harlingen are sharing their blessings this year by gathering donations for a couple of organizations. They are gathering donations for Dr. Bill Harrison’s Sow the Word mission in Nuevo Progresso and for Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Harlingen.

The park has a reverse advent calendar set up where they ask residents to donate a designated item each day. For example, today, December 11 is 105 ounce can of veggies, and tomorrow is a bag of rice. The list doesn’t only include food items. The list also includes items such as soap, shampoo, crayons and coloring books.

The Winter Texan Times went and visited the park last week just to see what they were doing.

Criss Hastings, one of the organizers, said they have been blessed with the amount that has been donated already. In just six short days, residents had nearly filled up the front of small trailer home with the donations already given.

“The amount of donations for the Reverse Advent is already amazing,” said Hastings.

Hastings and her husband Jeff, park chaplain, and Sharon Bargel are leading the gathering.

Even though they are collecting items through December 24, they are having a big celebration on Friday, December 20 during their Burger Friday and jam session.

They will collect a big portion of their donated items and present them to Dr. Harrison.

Jammers start playing at 10:45 a.m., lunch is served at 11 a.m. and announcements will be made at noon. Residents also wear read on Fridays to Remember Everyone Deployed.

Hastings thinks the stage will be a sight to see with all of the donations gathered around.

If you want to help out call Sharon at 320-248-2167 or head on over to the jam session on Friday, December 20. There is a fee for lunch. The park is located at 1201 N. Expressway 77, in Harlingen.

Christmas: Traditions and Magic

WEB On The Road HeaderOh, to be a kid again. What a magical time of the year. A wonderful time of the year when traditions are born, and memories are made. Homes will be filled with Christmas trees and pine boughs that exude the smell of Christmas! Nutmeg and cinnamon, chile and roasting turkey lend their mouthwatering smell to the mix of fresh baked sugar cookies. Daddies are out stringing Christmas lights and inflating reindeers and Snoopys and Charlie Browns as one neighbor tries to outdo the other to see whose yard will attract the most attention.

Every community is offering something special for us to enjoy with their traditional offerings... lf we could take advantage of all the festivities being offered, we would be busy every weekend traveling from town to town to enjoy parades, special music, theater, sand sculptures, Christmas lights, Holiday Villages, Christmas tree forests and manger scenes.

A Sandcastle Village will be on display at South Padre Island, near Louie’s Back Yard and Gravity Park. Viewing started November 25 and will last until January 13. The sand sculptures all have a holiday theme. The weather has been beautiful for a visit to South Padre Island, so pile the kids, or your group of friends, in the car and head for the island.

Brownsville has developed a tradition in their Holiday Village Display. Now in its 10th year, the display has grown from 10 to 33 miniature houses all decked out in holiday finery. Go early perhaps to start your trip with a visit to Gladys Porter Zoo. The lights turn on in the houses at dusk, but if you wait too late you will have difficulty finding a parking place.

Museums in both McAllen - the IMAS - and in Harlingen - Harlingen Arts and History Museum - have Christmas Tree Forests. These displays have become a tradition when individuals, clubs or businesses, elect to decorate a Christmas tree with a special theme.

I entered a tree for several years. One year I used my late husband's collection of Micky Mouse memorabilia for the decorations. Another year, I used my daughter's collection of dolls from around the world. Once a local antique store decorated her tree with teacups, saucers and lace doilies for a very feminine and original presentation. Each tree has something different and interesting for visitors to see.

Viewing of the Christmas Tree Forest at the IMAS is included in the cost of admission. The trees will be on display through January 4, 2020. Donations are welcomed at the Harlingen Arts and History Museum as there is no entrance fee. The trees are on display until early January.

Hidalgo celebrates with their Festival of Lights with daily live performances from December 1st to the 30th• The free performances start at 7 p.m. and last approximately one hour. The Festival is held outside in front of the Hidalgo City Hall where the grounds are decorated with lighted life size presentations. Trolley rides are offered for a small fee and will take you through a fairy land of Christmas lighting.

The biggest extravaganza of all may well have been in McAllen for their parade of giant inflatable balloons that followed a set route. This extraordinary, super display has become an annual event so if you missed it this year, there will be a next year. The parade follows a set route, but there is also a chance to purchase reserved seating.

At least one church will be hosting a live Nativity December 21 and 22. The First United Methodist Church of La Feria will host its Live Nativity from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday mentioned. The church parking lot will become the town of Bethlehem and visitors can either walk or drive through the village and see the original Christmas story of the birth of Jesus.

The gifts may be piling up under your Christmas tree but let us remember that not all families will be able to visit the beautiful Christmas displays. Lack of a car or lack of money to buy gas may prevent some families from sharing in the wonders of Christmas. There will be some who cannot afford the Christmas tree nor the gifts to go under it. Churches, schools and many organizations join in another traditional happening - the drive that is organized for Toys for Tots. We can all share in the gift of Christmas by donating to this drive. Even a small gift will make some child happy.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year! Let's make it a wonderful time of the year for all!

Warthogs now on exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo

They have finally arrived! Two male warthogs (Phacocherus africanus) have made their debut recently at the Gladys Porter Zoo. These two brothers, Leonardo and Rollo, arrived from the Indianapolis Zoo and have earned the title of Gladys Porter Zoo’s very first warthogs. They may not be the most attractive looking mammals, but they are incredibly intelligent and can quickly adapt to their environment.

Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, warthogs will typically eat vegetation such as roots and grasses but will occasionally eat meat when the opportunity arises. When startled, warthogs can run up to 30 miles per hour, or when necessary, may use their face bumps and sharp tusks for self-defense.

Although their conservation status is listed as Least Concern, warthogs are targeted for their tusks and still face endangered habitats and fractured breeding grounds.

Visit the zoo to see soon them for yourselves.

San Antonio group brings light show to Illumina Fest

sa illumina fest flowboticsFlowbotics of San Antonio will light up the night at Quinta Mazatlan’s premier celebration - Illumina Fest! The two-day art and music event is a global celebration of light taking place December 13 and 14. Guests will travel the quarter mile Luminaria Trail and get a glimpse of how the world celebrates with light across the seven continents; experiencing unique performances, like Flowbotics, along the way.

“We are thrilled to light up the night with McAllen, Texas!” stated Flowbotics Founder Whitney Watts.

Flowbotics Hoop Troupe is a Flow Arts Performance group that specializes in Daytime, LED, and Fire hula hooping, as well as other flow props. Flowbotics is dedicated to promoting and advancing the performing, visual, and creative art of flow arts through ongoing series of local and special events, workshops, and other community outreach programs by inspiring health, wellness, and creativity. While the simple love and joy of a hula hoop originally drew the team together, today, the team consists of five talented flow artists including Founder Whitney Watts, Co-Founder Tori Villarreal, Cassandra Flores, Amber Guitron, and Michael Morejon.

“We are so excited to have Flowbotics sharing their light at Illumina Fest and invite everyone to come shine their light. You never know how much light you have to give, until you share it with others,” said Lisa Ramirez, supervisor at Quinta Mazatlan.

There are two ways for guests to share their light at Illumina Fest - dress illuminated for chances to win prizes, and bring a decorated paper lunch bag (luminaria) to place on the luminaria trail. Compost will be provided to weigh down the paper luminaria bag, along with an LED tea-light. Children who bring a paper luminaria bag for the trail, will receive a glow band as a gift for sharing their light.

Illumina Fest is Friday and Saturday, December 13 and 14 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person. Tickets may be purchased at Quinta Mazatlan prior to the event, or at the gate. Skip the lines and purchase tickets online at (search Illumina Fest) with no service fees. For more information on Illumina Fest, call Quinta Mazatlan at (956) 681-3370.

Quinta Mazatlan hosts Nights at the Mansion speaker series

quinta nights mansion forest smithNative plant communities are the foundation of healthy wildlife populations, functional ecosystems, and sustainable land use. On Thursday, December 5 at 6 p.m., Quinta Mazatlán will host Director of the Texas Natives Seeds Program, Forrest S. Smith, for Nights at the Mansion speaker series. Forrest will present his research and work within the Texas Native Seeds Program.

Forrest S. Smith is the Dan L Duncan Endowed Director of the Texas Natives Seeds Program located at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute in Kingsville within the Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) campus. He earned a degree in Range and Wildlife Management from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2003. Forrest has worked with CKWRI since 2001 and has led the native plant conservation and restoration programs there since 2008.

Forrest has published numerous scientific and popular works, and notably, his editorial in the journal Ecological Restoration titled Texas Today: A Sea of the Wrong Grasses remains one of the top 10 read most-read articles of the journal since it was published in 2010. In November 2019, Texas A&M Press released the book A Photographic Guide to the Plants of the South Texas Sandsheet which was co-authored by Forrest.

Forrest is a frequent speaker on native plant restoration and conservation, including giving invited talks at the 2015 World Conference on Ecological Restoration in the UK, and a keynote address at the 2019 Wildlife Society Annual Meeting in Reno, NV. Under his direction, in 2019, the TNS Program was awarded both the Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Agriculture and The Wildlife Society’s Group Achievement Award.

Nights at the Mansion speaker series presents noteworthy speakers and scholars to present lectures related to our global environment, local cuisine and the arts and culture. The program takes place on Thursday evenings through May 2020. The program fee is $3 per person and no advance reservation is required.

Quinta Mazatlán is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall on 10th Street. For more information, contact Quinta Mazatlán at (956) 681-3370 or visit or the Facebook events page

Celebrate the holiday borderland culture at MOSTH

mosh img 4874The Museum of South Texas History (MOSTH) presents Fiesta de Noche Buena Sunday, December 8, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy this border-spirit event with traditions, stories, crafts and performances.

Returning this year is the popular “Posada Por Tiempo,” which takes guests through the museum’s exhibits while telling the biblical story of María and José’s search for an inn. “Posada Por Tiempo” is scheduled 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Capture the holiday spirit with fun activities such as free make-to-take-home crafts: Memory Ornaments and Felt Poinsettia Ornaments. Cowboy Santa will also be on hand for pictures.

If you love singing carols, Bellasea Entertainment will host “Holiday Karaoke” in the Grand Lobby from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to practice your favorite holiday song or carol.

New this year is the Christmas comedy play, “Pastorela,” which is another retelling of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter. The play, however, focuses on the challenges laid out by the Devil and a saving moment by Michael the Archangel. Two local groups will perform their own renditions in Spanish in the Courtyard Gallery. At 2 p.m. the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium Community Theater will perform “Cómo te quedó el ojo, Lucifer” by Norma Román Calvo and directed by Dr. Edna Ochoa. At 3:45 p.m. Latino Theatre Initiatives will perform “La Apuesta” written by Hugo Rodolfo Gomez and directed by LTI President Francisco Garza Rincones.

It isn’t a party if there is no food to enjoy, so bring some extra cash for some Mexican dishes and beverages. You can enjoy pozole, tamales and champurrado or snacks such as elote en vaso, fritturas Mexicanas con queso, marranadas and gummy bears with chamoy to be sold by E&B Elotes. Pair your choice of food with a soda, agua fresca or hot chocolate, which will be sold by the Scouts.

Admission fees for Fiesta de Noche Buena are $8 for adults (ages 18+); $6 for seniors with ID (ages 62+), active military and students with ID (ages 13+); $5 for children (ages 4 to 12) and free for children ages 3 and younger. FRIENDS of MOSTHistory are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship and must provide an active FRIENDship card to enter free.

The museum is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit, find the museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube or call (956) 383-6911.

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