Thursday, May 23, 2019
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Valley Star Award winner Helen Russell returns

20190102 Helen Russell promo12The 2018 winner of the Valley Star Awards “Best Small Band Variety Show,” Helen Russell and Company, is in demand with a very full schedule of shows at the RV resorts in the Rio Grande Valley this season.

From country to bluegrass to classic rock to gospel, Helen Russell said she strives to make sure the audience enjoys their show. She said they pride themselves in “giving 100 percent, whether there are 50 people in the audience or 300.”

Regarding being voted “Best Small Band Variety Show” last season, Russell said, “That was only our second year and we didn't think we had a following big enough to win that award. We felt really honored, especially since we had only been here one season prior. It has been awesome. It's more and more like coming home every year.”

Read more: Valley Star Award winner Helen Russell returns

Redhead Express is back

20190102 Redhead Express2We’ve watched the Redhead Express grow and mature professionally as this talented group of young ladies has won our hearts during their visits to the Rio Grande Valley in their nationwide tours for the past 10 years. Their vocal harmonies are amazing, and their fans have been delighted to see them blossom from a sweet and talented “family band” that went to Nashville to highly polished performers who light up the stage with their music.

Now, the Redhead Express is taking their music to a whole new level. While in the past they have been a cover band, today they are recording and performing more of their own original music – much to the delight of their growing fan base.

Read more: Redhead Express is back

Tip O Texas loves their country band: Steven May and the Southern Knights

20190102 Tip o Texas IMG 5837While the hustling and bustling of pre-Christmas preparations were over, activity at Tip ‘O Texas RV Resort in Pharr was going full swing the day after Christmas.

Card games were at near capacity in most of the rooms reserved for those competitions, the pool had a small group of people milling about and the billiards room was at full speed with eight-ball, stipes and solid or other games being played on every table. Even the streets in the RV park had people out enjoying the warm weather walking their dogs or driving around in golf carts.

And in the main ballroom, Steven May and the Southern Knights kept an audience of close to 200 on their feet, dancing the night away to country, waltzes, polkas and little rock-n-roll.

Read more: Tip O Texas loves their country band: Steven May and the Southern Knights

Gearing up for the Golden Age Olympics

20190102 GAO Bicycle Tour Herb DSC 0273Celebrating its 39th annual Golden Age Olympics, the city of McAllen invites anyone aged 50 and up to compete in a series of events that offer everything from bowling to bake-offs. The GAO started in 1983 with just three events. Today they offer approximately 30 different competitions.

The games, which run from Jan. 7 to Feb. 28, reflect the interests of the Rio Grande Valley’s growing Winter Texan community. “We have events all across the board, anything from card games, Poker, Cribbage, Hearts, to swimming,” explains Stephanie Valdez, who has been in charge of the Golden Age Olympics for the past two years.

With 1,729 individual participants registered in last year’s events and 4,406 people involved in its competitions, attendance for these winter games is impressive and, according to Valdez, always growing.

Read more: Gearing up for the Golden Age Olympics

Christmas Caring & Sharing

20190102 Loaves and Fishes KOLoaves and fishes provides food and shelter for homeless

Loaves and Fishes in Harlingen is a homeless shelter that provides daily meals and temporary shelter for up to 30 days and some educational assistance to the homeless of Harlingen. The shelter, which first opened its doors in 1991, is located at 514 E. “E” Street in Harlingen. It is an “open arms” shelter where everyone who is hungry or in need of a place to stay is welcome – no questions asked.

Bill Reagan, who has served as executive director for the past nine years, told the Winter Texan Times, there are five main functions of Loaves and Fishes. Reagan is a pastor, who until recently served as pastor of Our Redeemer Church, in addition to his duties at the shelter. The shelter has grown over the years since it moved to its present location in 2008, and now has 15 employees, 11 full-time and four part-time.

Read more: Christmas Caring & Sharing

Ranchero residents brighten Christmas for kids

20190102 RancheroVillage IMG 5674Jan Murphy fought at the idea; she battled with God over idea.

“I felt God was asking me to do this,” she said. “I wasn't interested in doing it, but he told me I was going to do it and he was going to work on me until I did.”

Now in its sixth year Jan's Christmas for Kids has blessed nearly 50 families who may have gone without during the Christmas holidays.
The “event” is a collaboration between residents at Ranchero Village in Weslaco and Margo Elementary School, which sits just down the road. The two already work together with other functions; residents will go read to school children and, in turn, the students will come and perform their Christmas program for the residents.

Read more: Ranchero residents brighten Christmas for kids

Red Hat Queens celebrate Christmas

20190102 Red Hat Queens Meet KO 1The Rio Grande Valley Red Hat Society Queen’s Council held its December meeting at Red Lobster in McAllen and celebrated Christmas with a gift exchange. Mission’s Red Hat Society Queen Barbara Gerlach acted as hostess for the event.

Exalted Queen Mother of the Rio Grande Valley Jan Bergman reminded the ladies of the upcoming Festival of Tables to be held Feb. 6 at Casa del Sol in Donna. Different Red Hat groups from the Valley choose a theme and decorate a table using that theme. Themes may be holidays, countries, sports teams or a variety of other themes the groups may choose. The doors open for those decorating tables at 9 a.m. For all others who attend door open at 11 a.m. so groups may parade by the tables and see what decorations were chosen for each theme.

Read more: Red Hat Queens celebrate Christmas

Mission Historical Museum accepting entries for ‘Turning of the Quilts’

Mission Historical Museum is accepting entries for its “Turning of the Quilts” program to be offered Jan. 18. The museum is looking for antique, vintage, or just plain interesting quilts for this program. The quilts are presented stacked on a bed. As each quilt is shown, it is turned down to reveal the next quilt, until all have been presented. A knowledgeable presenter will talk about each quilt as it is shown.

The museum will be accepting vintage quilts through Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Quilts can be brought in Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Please provide as much information as you can about your quilt, such as who made it, how old is it, how you got it, etc. Viewers would also be interested in any stories associated with the quilt. All quilts will be handled by trained and knowledgeable individuals. You may bring more than one.

Read more: Mission Historical Museum accepting entries for ‘Turning of the Quilts’

A strolling we will go

20181227 Stroll Southern Oasis BenO Judy n Ken Boyle 3For the second year in a row, residents of Southern Oasis in Mission participated in a Christmas Stroll. It was a time for neighbors to get out and greet one another and meet new residents, while renewing acquaintances with old friends.

From 4 to 6 p.m. five residents opened their homes to host the other residents of the subdivision as they made their way to the five houses to greet their hosts and friends and to sample goodies provided by the hosts.

My first stop was at the home of Robert and Kay Sutten from Michigan, who have only been in the subdivision for three months. The home was definitely ready for Christmas with all kinds of decorations including a Christmas village.

Read more: A strolling we will go

Santa Claus visits Weslaco Parade

20181227 IMG 9181For Brian and Judy Lunny and Steve and Carol Klem, the 2018 Mid-Valley Lighted Christmas Parade in Weslaco is a must-see celebration.

And the natives of Winnipeg and Ontario invited neighbors and friends Lorraine Goodman and Barb Berzenski to join in the evening fun.

Travelling the two miles on Business 83 from their winter home at Pine to Palm Resort, they set up their lawn chairs on Railroad Street and Texas Boulevard hoping to catch a glimpse of the Disney theme Christmas parade.

After coming to the Valley for nearly fifteen years, they shared what it is that keeps bringing them back to South Texas each winter.
“We like the weather, we like the culture and we like the people,” Brian said.

Read more: Santa Claus visits Weslaco Parade

‘Tim’s Coats’ receives 991 coats from Bentsen Grove

20181227 TimCoats Mission GU 1692Tim’s Coats, a holiday tradition in the Rio Grande Valley, is sponsored by Tim Smith, weatherman on TV Channel 5. For over 25 years Tim has encouraged families with old coats that no longer fit or are no longer wanted to donate them to Channel 5 for distribution to families who cannot afford them.

The coats are given to Bill Stockton at Palace Cleaners in McAllen to be cleaned and checked for small repairs needed. Stockton donates his services.

When Channel 5 started the coat drive 25 years ago, residents of Bentsen Grove back then saw Tim’s plea for coats and decided to answer the call. For the past 25 years it has been a tradition to collect coats for the drive, and it has been their goal to donate more coats than any other group.

Residents who return home for the summer visit garage sales and flea markets looking for used coats to bring to the Valley. Or they bring the coats their grandchildren have outgrown. Other residents search out local flea markets and ropa usadas (used clothing stores) in search of used coats in good condition.

20181227 TimCoats Mission GU 1715Vivian Tuttle told the Winter Texan Times that the Bentsen Grove Red Hat Society had recently visited ropa usadas and come up with 70 coats for the coat drive.

This year the number of coats delivered to Tim Coats came in just shy of 1,000, as Bentsen Grove residents donated 991 coats. In 2018, they donated over 1200.

Tim said approximately 10,000 coats have been collected this year for distribution. “As you can see, about one-tenth of the coats come to us from Bentsen Grove. They lead the way each year. Other parks also collect coats but not in the numbers received from Bentsen Grove,” he added.

Once the coats are ready, they will be donated to the Salvation Army or distributed through Catholic Charities to those who need them,” Tim added.

Part of the tradition of Tim’s Coats at Bentsen Grove is that someone receives a pie in the face as a good-spirited way of celebrating the culmination of the coat drive for another year. It used to be that Tim got the pie every year if a certain number of coats was reached but now the honors are spread around. Tim got the pie last year, so they figured it was someone else’s turn this time around. This year’s recipient of the pie was Kathy Tyler, activity director. Peggy Creach, also an activity director, was delighted to assist – by putting the pie in Kathy’s face!

Paradise Park residents enjoy a ‘Cup of Christmas Tea’

Residents of Paradise Park in McAllen sat at beautifully decorated tables, enjoying the camaraderie and sipping a cup of “Christmas Tea” as they waited for the park’s Christmas program to begin.

When it started, they all joined in a sing-a-long of Christmas carols led by guitarist Dwight Brackman and keyboardist Tom Malchow.

Following the songs, residents were treated to interesting stories behind cherished quilts that were displayed, one at a time, in a turning of the quilts presentation. There were memory quilts, a four-generation quilt, gifted quilts and a baby quilt.

Read more: Paradise Park residents enjoy a ‘Cup of Christmas Tea’

Rusty Rierson is coming back

20181227 CMYK Rusty Rierson picRusty Rierson is all country – from his charming looks to his smooth vocals, he brings a touch of yesterday's country and mixes it a little with today's; he doesn't stray (for the most part).

“I don't pretend to be something I'm not,” said the performer from his ranch in Augusta, Kansas. “Of course, except when I'm 'Rockin' Rusty.'”

Rockin' Rusty is an alter ego that makes appearances at some shows. While Rierson is a self-described shy entertainer and is soft-spoken, Rockin' Rusty is the “hippie cousin from San Francisco.”

Rierson makes his return to the Valley starting with a show at Park Place on Jan. 2. Last year Rierson performed for just six weeks but this year he's here for the full season and said he's excited with a pretty packed schedule.

Read more: Rusty Rierson is coming back

McAllen Holiday Parade, bigger and better than ever

20181227 McAllen Christmas Parade Miller IMG 3938The city of McAllen hosted the Rio Grande Valley’s most spectacular Christmas parade in early December, and members from the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard were happy to be away from the snow and cold of Washington, D.C. Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of the animated star Coco, was excited to visit a city “that shows so much excitement and patriotism.” And as for 6-year-old Brianna Ochoa, she just couldn't wait to see Santa Claus.

Celebrities, officials, athletes and all who attended talked about the fun and excitement that is the McAllen Holiday Parade. Nothing more than an idea a few years ago, the parade, carnival, and entertainment event has become an extravaganza and has brought with it plenty of excitement to usher in the Christmas season.

Read more: McAllen Holiday Parade, bigger and better than ever

More players invited to join in as Senior Softball launches new season

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6593Ed Martens was laid up in a hospital bed in Manila, capital of the Philippines, with some type of blood poisoning. His Air Force baseball team had just played the final regular-season game and he was excited to rejoin them the following week for the first round of the playoffs.
Those hopes were dashed as soon as his hospital doctor walked into his room to give him an update.

“The guys wanted me to play and I was in the hospital for 10 days and missed that one Sunday,” Martens said. “The doctor, though, refused to let me go.”

That was more than 55 years ago and today Martens is still involved in the diamond, not as a player but for the past 25 years as the coordinator of the South Texas Senior Texan Softball League.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6603Today, the League has players from 27 RV and mobile home parks, 23 states and most of the Canadian provinces. The league began playing in Mission – at three different locations – before moving to Edinburg and, finally to their current home at Westside Park in McAllen, located at 1000 S. Ware Road, across from the McAllen Convention Center. Bentsen Grove Resort has the largest number of participants from a single park and is called the league’s headquarters.

Now, Martens is making his rounds, promoting the league around the Valley and looking for players.

“As the years go by, we lose some players and gain new ones – but we are always looking for more who want to play and have fun,” said Martens, a Minnesota native. “It doesn’t matter what level they play, or if they’ve played before, we have a league, a level, that will fit them. This is our 25th year so we want to have a large number to commemorate it.”

The highlights of the season include playoffs for each division and the U.S.-Canada game, which draws 300-plus fans, cheering, dressed in U.S. and Canadian garb, and waving flags and banners.

The Winter League begins Jan. 3 and runs through the first week of March, ending with the end of year banquet. The league is open to Winter Texans and local residents alike, ages 55 and older. Cost is $60 per player and includes the season and the banquet. First-time players don’t have to register for a week, being able to have a chance to try it out.

Call Martens at (956) 581-2254 for more information.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6635Martens, who played baseball at the University of Wichita, still remembers that time in Manila as if it was yesterday. Some of the players on the team were part of the hospital group. The day of the game, they walked in, gathered Martens’ clothes from the locker, went to where he was and helped him “unofficially get a discharge” for the game.

“I had been lying in bed for 10 days and my legs were a little weak,” he said. “But I wanted to play and they wanted me to play.”

Martens had two singles on the day and was called on for a squeeze play. “I just hoped that I got the sign right,” he said. “You don’t want to call for time at that point, it’ll give it away.”

The next day, Martens was back laying in his hospital bed. His clothes were back in the locker and it looked as if everything was clear.
Then the doctor walked in.

20181227 Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6693“He said he listened to the game on military radio and heard my name on it,” Martens said. “He was ready to court martial me.”

Fortunately, a colonel by the name of Frank Borman put in a good word to the military doctor and Martens escaped discipline.

“Eight years later, Frank Borman got into the space program and went to the moon,” Martens said. “I’m just glad he was still on earth that day.”

Life is but a dream on the Riverside Dreamer

20181227 Riverside Dreamer Tour JMB 033The Riverside Dreamer pontoon boat ride is a popular destination for locals, tourists and especially Winter Texans, according to Johnny Hart, captain and owner of the 55-foot pontoon boat as well as the Riverside Club where the Dreamer docks on the banks of the Rio Grande.

“It’s very popular with the Winter Texans,” Captain Johnny said as he prepared to pilot a group of 35 passengers on the one-hour boat tour down the Rio Grande. “Some of them come 8-10 times in a season and every time a relative or a friend comes down, they go again.

“Today we’ll be taking the tour down to the Anzalduas Dam. Then we’ll be on the Mexican side and the U.S. side of the river and we’ll point out features as we go up and down the river. We’ll give a little history of [some of the sites along] the river; we’ll point out some of the birds and the wildlife.... And we’ll be touring some of the border wall and the Border Patrol boats and the activity that’s out here on the river,” he explained before launching.

Read more: Life is but a dream on the Riverside Dreamer

Winter Texans join Alamo Chamber Toy Drive

20181219 Alamo Chamber Toy Drive Moering RoyalPalms 1094It’s going to be a bit merrier this Christmas for a lot of elementary school children in Alamo thanks to a community effort organized by the Alamo Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.

This annual toy drive event draws in Winter Texans from several parks, local businesses and some City of Alamo departments, according to Ana Cano, chamber office manager. Hundreds of toys are being gathered for distribution to six local elementary schools, Zeferino Farias, Santos Livas, Maria R. Garza, John McKeever, Captain D. Salinas and Augusto Guerra Elementary schools.

Read more: Winter Texans join Alamo Chamber Toy Drive

McAllen Holiday Parade, bigger and better than ever

The city of McAllen hosted the Rio Grande Valley’s most spectacular Christmas parade in early December, and members from the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard were happy to be away from the snow and cold of Washington, D.C. Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of the animated star Coco, was excited to visit a city “that shows so much excitement and patriotism.” And as for 6-year-old Brianna Ochoa, she just couldn't wait to see Santa Claus.

Celebrities, officials, athletes and all who attended talked about the fun and excitement that is the McAllen Holiday Parade. Nothing more than an idea a few years ago, the parade, carnival, and entertainment event has become an extravaganza and has brought with it plenty of excitement to usher in the Christmas season.

Read more: McAllen Holiday Parade, bigger and better than ever

Mission Historical Museum accepting entries for ‘Turning of the Quilts’

Mission Historical Museum is accepting entries for its “Turning of the Quilts” program to be offered Jan. 18. The museum is looking for antique, vintage, or just plain interesting quilts for this program. The quilts are presented stacked on a bed. As each quilt is shown, it is turned down to reveal the next quilt, until all have been presented. A knowledgeable presenter will talk about each quilt as it is shown.

The museum will be accepting vintage quilts through Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Quilts can be brought in Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Please provide as much information as you can about your quilt, such as who made it, how old is it, how you got it, etc. Viewers would also be interested in any stories associated with the quilt. All quilts will be handled by trained and knowledgeable individuals. You may bring more than one.

Read more: Mission Historical Museum accepting entries for ‘Turning of the Quilts’

Ranchero Village enjoys sharing with local school children

20181212 Ranchero Village Pageant PR 5109Christmas is best when it's shared with others. There’s a lot of sharing at Ranchero Village Resort in Weslaco.

For the past five years, children from both Margo and Memorial elementary schools have performed a Christmas show for the residents of Ranchero as a way of showing their appreciation for all that the residents do for the children – both at Christmas and throughout the year.
“I don't know exactly how it started,” said Jan Murphy, a Ranchero Village resident for the past 17 years and native of Grand Rapids, Mich. “I remember talking to someone and seeing the kids perform at school and asked if they would take kids to the park and one thing led to another and there it is. Now they come and we have so much fun. After all, we are away from all our grandkids.”

Read more: Ranchero Village enjoys sharing with local school children

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