Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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Valley Museums Celebrate Christmas

We don’t have snow, but the “cool weather” has arrived, helping folks catch the spirit of the Christmas season. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the season and many of the Valley’s museums have created ways for schools and community organizations to display their Christmas traditions. Here is a look at some of thing things local museums will be doing to help their patrons enjoy the holidays.

Alamo Museum

Anyone who loves angles will want to visit the Alamo Museum, located at 130 S. 8th Street. They have a display of over 1800 angels in all sizes and shapes on display along with a Christmas tree decorated with angels. The museum is open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Donations accepted. For more information fall (956) 961-4398 or

Read more: Valley Museums Celebrate Christmas

Wild by Nature - November 28, 2018

20181128 Wild byNature RoadsideHawk LEG2908Birding has undergone many changes over the years. The fact that it’s now called birding, as opposed to birdwatching, is one of the most obvious changes. However, a change that has had a much more significant impact on the hobby is the ability of birders to share their sightings with other birders online.

Read more: Wild by Nature - November 28, 2018

Brownsville Holiday Village lights up the season

20181128 BrownsvilleHolidayVillage 5149The Holiday Village in Brownsville just keeps growing and getting better and better each year. As the village opened – lights on for their ninth season – Bean Ayala, the emcee, announced there are 33 cottages on display this year – more than ever.

The village is open daily, now through January 1. Admission is free. While the village is open during the day, the lights come on at 6 p.m., so for the best enjoyment of the cheerfully decorated – and lighted – cottages come by after 6 p.m. Food, drink and craft vendors will be at the village every weekend, and some week nights. Entertainers will also be performing in the pavilion throughout the holiday season.

Read more: Brownsville Holiday Village lights up the season

RGV Concert Band to perform Christmas concert

20181128 RGV Concert Band HM 2639The Rio Grande Valley Concert Band performed its first concert at Fiesta Village in Mission on Feb. 15, 1998. They booked a few more that year after that one.

Twenty-one years later, the RGV Band, mostly made up of Winter Texans – and with a few musicians still from that original group – is preserving and performing “lovely music,” as one review about that band stated.

Since those first days, the group has grown – there have been as many as 65 musicians, and membership has stayed steady at about 60 for the past few years. While not all of the band’s members have made it to the Valley from their northern homes, the ones already here are moving full speed ahead in preparation for their annual Christmas concert at 3 p.m., Dec. 9 at Our Savior Lutheran Church, located at 1105 W. Fern Ave., in McAllen.

Read more: RGV Concert Band to perform Christmas concert

Museum of South Texas History tells story of RGV

20181128 MOSTH Edinburg GU 9514“One of the best ways for new Winter Texans to learn about the area where they are wintering is to make a visit to the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg,” said museum Executive Director Shan Rankin.

The museum chronicles the Valley’s history from prehistoric times when the Mosasaurus (a sea dinosaur that inhabited the area now known as the Rio Grande Valley when it was under the ocean). In a later period, giant mammoths roamed the area after the land rose out of the water to become vast prairies. Come to the museum to find out where the mammoth bones for the museum’s mammoth exhibit were discovered.

Read more: Museum of South Texas History tells story of RGV

Snow to Sun hosts annual drive to benefit Rainbow Room

20181128 Snow to Sun Rainbow Rm HM 2616A look around the tiny room speaks volumes. There’s baby food and diapers, backpacks and school supplies, clothing and bathing necessities. Everything is neatly organized to grab in a moment’s notice. There are also toys, stuffed animals and comfort items.

Comfort is what’s needed most when walking into this room.

These items are here for when a child is taken from his or her home and to safety by Child Protective Services. This is the Rainbow Room and for many children, it is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Read more: Snow to Sun hosts annual drive to benefit Rainbow Room

Salvation Army seeks volunteer, donations for needy

When it comes to helping others, the Salvation Army shines at what it does year-round.

But its brilliance truly comes during the Holidays, with Thanksgiving and Christmas as the brightest moments.

It’s during this season that the charitable organization shows what it means to put others first. It couldn’t do that, however, without its army of donors and volunteers, who keep the Salvation Army self-sustaining and help give so many in need hope and encouragement with something as simple, and valuable, as a meal, a blanket or a warm place to drop their head for some peaceful rest.

Already underway for the Salvation Army is the Angel Tree program that identifies children living in poverty and creates tags in the shape of angels with their wishes for Christmas. The public is invited to be donors who help bring a little joy to these children by “adopting” a child by purchasing at least one gift from the child’s wish list.

Read more: Salvation Army seeks volunteer, donations for needy

Trophy Gardens embraces holiday giving

20181121 Trophy Gardens Caring 5328When the 9-year-old girl was told that the bicycle she was looking at now belonged to her, it didn’t register at first. But then the message became clear, the first tear of disbelief and joy appeared as she cried. It seems that people who come in touch with those at Trophy Gardens oftentimes have similar reactions of joy.

“She never dreamed she would have a bicycle,” said Janice Tepp of Trophy Gardens RV Resort in Alamo. “We always tend to think every boy has a bike or a ball and every girl has a bike or a doll. That’s not always the case.”

With the holiday season here, Trophy Gardens is one of many Winter Texan resorts that are have a caring tradition of giving; they even have a group called Caring For Others, an outreach program at the park. Giving is a year-round event for those at this resort, and it gets ramped up as holiday time approaches, from blankets to food to toys and quillows, someone’s day is getting brighter on a regular basis, thanks to the residents at Trophy Gardens.

Read more: Trophy Gardens embraces holiday giving

Sea Turtle Inc. provides important conservation services for sea turtles

20181121 SPI SeaTurtleInc. GU 9146Sea Turtle, Inc. opened a new facility on South Padre Island on January 1 of this year. The facility is used to preserve and protect the giant sea turtles that populate the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre waters and nest on the beaches of the island. They also conduct educational programs to teach the public about the sea turtles and their importance to the sea ecology.

The new Sea Turtle, Inc. facility is located on South Padre Island behind the old facility. According to Jean Pettit, administrative assistant, the new facility has new, larger tanks that house the giant sea turtles. The new tanks also have windows in the side of each tank to make it easier for the public to view the turtles. The facility also features a larger area for outdoor presentations and viewing the turtles. The new tanks are being painted to create a sea theme. One is the view of the land around the Laguna Madre. There is now an indoor classroom that is used during inclement weather, and the public can now enjoy a much nicer gift shop.

Read more: Sea Turtle Inc. provides important conservation services for sea turtles

Museum invites entries for 13th Annual Mission Quilt Show

20181121 Mission Quilt Show Winners JB 009Mission Historical Museum will be accepting entries beginning Nov. 27 for the 13th Annual Mission Quilt Show. Entries will be accepted in three categories: Hand-quilted bed quilts; Machine-quilted bed quilts; and Wall hangings. The show is open to all quilters, both Winter Texans and year-round residents.

Quilts and wall hangings exhibit must be ready to hang with a sleeve for display purposes.

Entries are accepted on a first-in/first accepted basis. Because of limited space, the museum reserves the right to close entries before the deadline. This will allow for the best possible presentation for all entries. To allow for the broadest representation, participants may submit only one item per person. Any quilt entered in this show within the past five years is not eligible for entry this year. The quilts will be judged by a panel of independent judges, with ribbons awarded for first, second, and third places in each category. Best-of-Show and Viewers’ Choice ribbons will also be awarded.

Read more: Museum invites entries for 13th Annual Mission Quilt Show

November 14, 2018 - Wild by Nature

Of the 400-plus species of birds that have been reported to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird across the Rio Grande Valley, most are year-round residents. Others are either winter or summer residents, some are migratory visitors and a few are vagrant, or accidental, species. While the birds that fall into the first three categories make up the vast majority of bird species you’ll see here in the Valley, it is the birds that fall into the vagrant species category that create the most excitement among birders.

These are birds that have strayed far outside their expected breeding, wintering or migrating range. These are individual birds that show up in an area that is hundreds or even thousands of miles away from where they are usually seen.

In January of this year, a Snowy Owl, a species that is native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia., was being seen in Odessa, Texas. How this bird ended up so far away from its normal range is a mystery, but once word of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a Snowy Owl in Texas got out, birders from all over the state made their way to Odessa in hopes of seeing it for themselves.

While that sighting was nearly a year ago and hundreds of miles away, there has been a much more recent vagrant bird sighting right here in the Valley. A female Varied Thrush (photographed here) was seen by several visitors to the National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Tuesday of last week. The news of this rare bird sighting spread like wildfire and soon had birders from as far away as New York state, Ohio and even Ontario, Canada making their way to Mission in hopes of seeing and photographing this Robin-like bird, rarely seen east of the Rockies.

The Rio Grande Birding Festival had just kicked off the day this bird was first reported, which meant there were already many birders from across the United States in the Valley. While some of them were able to make the quick trip from Harlingen to Mission the same day, others were lined up in their cars outside the NBC’s front gate the following morning waiting for the center to open. And as the bird continued to be seen, birders from far-and-wide continued to make their way to Mission, in hopes of adding a West Coast species to their birding life lists right here in South Texas.

How long this bird will remain in the Valley is not known, but birders are expected to continue coming to Mission for as long as it makes the NBC its home away from home.

Upcoming Nature Events and Activities

• Resaca de la Palma State Park (1000 New Carmen Ave., Brownsville) Butterfly Walk, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2:30 pm, and Intro to Birding, Thursday, Nov. 15, 10 am. 956-350-2920.
• McAllen Nature Center (4101 W. Business 83, McAllen) Native Plant Tour, Mondays, 6 pm, Sunset Yoga in the Park, Mondays, Wednesdays. and Fridays, 6 pm, Morning Yoga, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9:30 am, Bird and Nature Walk, Wednesdays, 8:30 am, Volunteer Gardening Mornings, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 am, Sunset Geocaching, Wednesdays, 6 pm. 956-681-3333.
• Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center (714 Raul Longoria Rd., Edinburg) Bird Walks, Tuesdays, 8:30–10 am, Nutty About Knots, Saturday, November 17, 2-3:30 pm, Where in the Wetlands Scavenger Hunt, Saturday, November 17, 10-11:30 am, Spectacular Saturdays, Saturday, Nov. 24, 8 am. 956-381-9922.
• Frontera Audubon (1101 S. Texas Blvd., Weslaco) Yoga on the Lawn, Tuesdays, 6:30 & 7:30 pm, Guided Bird Walks, Thursdays, 6:30 & 7:30 pm. 956-968-3275.
• Valley Nature Center (301 S. Border Ave., Weslaco) Native Plant Project Meeting, every fourth Thursday, 7:30 pm, Orchid Society Meeting, every first Sunday, 2 pm, and Brew in the Woods, Saturday, November 10, 7-10 pm. 956-969-2475.
• Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center (600 Sunset Dr., McAllen) Bird and Nature Walks, Saturdays, 8:30 am. 956-681-3370.

For more information on these and other upcoming events and activities, contact the nature center hosting them.

Weslaco Museum showcases history and culture of city

20181114 WeslacoMuseum 7987According to Sara Walker, executive director of the Weslaco Museum, located at 500 S. Texas Blvd., the museum is dedicated to showcasing the history and culture of Weslaco. Divided into two sections, one half is dedicated to the history of the city while the other showcases the culture.

The historic section starts with a display of gems and fossils found in the area. There is also display of arrowheads and prehistoric tools used by the indigenous people who lived there prior to the coming of the Spanish colonizers. A small area dedicated to Spanish colonization displays a two-wheeled ox cart similar the ones used by the settlers who moved north from Mexico. Clothing similar to what would have been worn and objects that would have been used for cooking and farming the land are on display.

Read more: Weslaco Museum showcases history and culture of city

Veterans Honored at Veterans War Memorial of Texas

While the cold drizzle and windy conditions on Saturday, Nov. 10, led to moving McAllen’s Veteran’s Day program inside for the first time, featured speaker State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa would not have minded being at the memorial site, recalling the often-wet climate of Vietnam, where he served and where he lost three buddies. The annual Veterans Day remembrance is normally held at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas nearby in McAllen.

A large audience of mainly veterans and family members came for the program held in the lobby of the McAllen Performing Art Center and heard Hinojosa remind listeners of the sacrifices made by young men and women to insure freedom and the nation’s values. He noted there are individuals and countries that want to destroy this nation.
He said those who have served in the armed forces come from many backgrounds but have learned to work together.

Read more: Veterans Honored at Veterans War Memorial of Texas

MOSTHistory unveils new Then and Now exhibit Saturday

20181114 MOSTH Southern Pacific ThenEDINBURG, Texas – As the Museum of South Texas History’s 1910 Jail renovations come to an end, the new Hidalgo County Courthouse will begin construction. It’s a sign of life’s progress. But, how much has changed in the city of Edinburg? You can find out by visiting at the new temporary exhibit, “Edinburg: Then and Now,” to open Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at 10 a.m. at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg.

Read more: MOSTHistory unveils new Then and Now exhibit Saturday

Kicking off the season with a jam

20181114 Country Jam Bit O Heaven HM 1823Mick Warborg distinctly remembers his wife being out and about, garage/yard sale hopping. She came home one day with “a bunch of stuff,” he said. “All kinds of things in boxes.”

What’s that saying? One person’s junk is another person’s treasure? In this case, it couldn’t have been any closer to the truth.

In Brenda’s collection of junk/treasure was information and tools enough to teach Mick how to make fiddles from scratch. He’s made 11 already, including the two he and Brenda used to play at Bit ‘O Heaven’s country jam Wednesday in Donna.

Read more: Kicking off the season with a jam

Bridge of Hope Children’s Choir to perform

20181114 BOHAM DSC 0373The Bridge of Hope Africa Ministries Children’s Choir will perform in concert at Restful Valley Ranch at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14, reports Restful Valley Activities Director Karla McNelly.

The Bridge of Hope Choir is an ambassador outreach to spread the word about the work of Bridge of Hope Africa Ministries, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization founded in Portland, Oregon in 2015 to help impoverished children and their families in Uganda, Africa. The traveling choir consists of 18 Ugandan children who “will share their hope for a bigger and brighter future through song, dance and the playing of musical instruments,” according to the organization’s website.

Read more: Bridge of Hope Children’s Choir to perform

Texas Wheels: Popular band in the Winter Texan park scene

20181107 Texas Wheels 02Mike and Irma Wimsett started making their way to their seats, ready to take a break after dancing to a couple songs by one of their favorite bands, Texas Wheels. It was a Saturday night at Mission Bell and just like every Saturday, Texas Wheels is a regular, performing from 7 to 10 p.m.

Just as they were within arm’s reach of their destination, the band began “Louisiana Saturday Night,” and they were back out on the dance floor. The routine repeated itself one more time. After that, the couple stood firm in the middle of the floor, deciding that they may as well listen to what Texas Wheels played next before deciding to take that now long-awaited break.

“That happens quite often, especially when we are out dancing where they are playing,” Irma said. “Every time out they have a different group of songs and they are always learning new songs – they’re not archaic – but they play all the old good ones too.”

Read more: Texas Wheels: Popular band in the Winter Texan park scene

Caring & Sharing

FromthepublisherAs we approach the holiday season, our hearts are drawn to those less fortunate – especially the children who, without the generosity of others, would have a very sad and bleak Christmas. Winter Texans have a remarkable reputation for their generous hearts and are known to plan food and clothing drives, make quilts and gather toy donations for many needy children and families. If your park or resort is planning a food drive for Thanksgiving, a toy drive for Christmas, or other activities to help brighten the holidays for the less fortunate, send me an email at or give me a call at 956-580-7800. I want to hear from you and share your story with others.

If you are planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas luncheon or other holiday activity at the park, let me know about that too. I look forward to featuring some of your activities in the Winter Texan Times.

Read more: Caring & Sharing

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