Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Chris Carney: Veteran, helicopter pilot, Canyon Lake resident

20181107 Helicopter Pilot Chris Carney ChopperChris Carney looked out and around the local coffee shop, his eyes seemingly never reaching a destination as his face showed he was contemplating what to say.

A glaze – maybe a little bit of a mist – seemed to cover those eyes, even ever so briefly. Those eyes have seen so much, nightmares in real life, nightmares personified. Even when they are closed, the images don’t go away. Images of his best friend crashing to the ground in a fiery ball after his helicopter was struck by an RPG. Images of his own fuel tank being hit and ruptured during a rescue mission. He calls it the best and worst day of his life, Valentine’s Day 2010 in Western Afghanistan. Best, only because he’s still alive to tell the story.
The question had been asked, “What are your long-term plans?” It was as if it had never been contemplated before. It is, in fact, something that the 54-year-old Nashville, Tennessean doesn’t put much stock in.

Read more: Chris Carney: Veteran, helicopter pilot, Canyon Lake resident

Texas Butterfly Festival registration underway

20181017 Queen BF NBCPaul K. Strother probably didn't know how amazing the fossilized moth scales he and his team uncovered were and how they would rewrite history.

Six years later, Strother, whose interest is in the study of paleopalynology (defined officially as the study of dust and how certain life was created), and his colleagues determined that what they found provided the earliest known evidence of the species on Earth – 70 million years prior to what was previously confirmed.

Read more: Texas Butterfly Festival registration underway

Why more Winter Texans are coming to the Valley

20181017 IMG 3292In Sharon, Minn., 14 inches of snow fell in 24 hours between Oct. 10 and 11.

A comment on the National Weather Service's website read “there was some melting, so the actual amount could have been higher.”

A few days earlier in the Rio Grande Valley, the high temperature was in the low 90s, the sun was bright and people were flocking to South Padre Island for the beach, many going to check out the annual “Sandcastle Days” event.

Where would you rather be?

Read more: Why more Winter Texans are coming to the Valley

RGV Birding Festival reservations underway

20181017 RGVBF BIRDERS Field TripWhile you’re in the Rio Grande Valley, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the fall weather and do some birding in one of the country’s most prolific birding areas. Some 535 different species of birds have been identified in the Valley.

To take advantage of some amazing field trips, birding workshops and seminars, now is the time to register for the 2018 Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival – before all the slots are filled. Online registration is now underway but ends October 24. After that date, those wanting to register late must call or walk in to register. Folks can register online at www.rgvbf.org.

Read more: RGV Birding Festival reservations underway

Winter Texans enjoy Nuevo Progreso, Mexico annual celebration

20180329 Progreso Winter Tourist Appreciation Day MOERING DSC 0431

Jim and Roberta Swenson and Judy and Jerry Freitag are couples from the same city in Minnesota and came to enjoy the Winter Tourist Appreciation Day in Progreso, Mexico on March 21.

Winter Texans were the toast of Nuevo Progreso during the 42nd annual Winter Tourist Appreciation Day on March 21.
The appreciation offered by Progreso officials included the selection of a king and queen for the event, Bob and Jody Ferns, who spend the winter season at Siesta Village in Weslaco. The couple was given a pair of Mexican sombreros for crowns along with a sash each proclaiming them the 2018 Winter Texan King and Queen. A plaque and other gifts were presented along with a large bouquet of roses for Jody.

Read more: Winter Texans enjoy Nuevo Progreso, Mexico annual celebration

Cyclists join GA Olympics Bike Tour

20180329 GAO Bicycle Tour Herb DSC 0247

Bernie and Pauline Loisette saw to the unloading of bicycles for the Tropic Star Bicycle Bunch group that came for the GAO Bike Tour at Bensten State Park.

There were bikes ranging from 18-speed to a few three-wheelers and everything in between, including mountain, 3-speed, balloon-tired cruisers, recumbents and folding types, in use by some 275 cyclists taking part in the Golden Age Olympics Bike Tour last month at Bentsen State Park in Mission.

The skies featured dark clouds, but no rain as the riders unloaded bikes in the parking lots and then moved to the staging area at the park entrance. Genial chatter along with some picture-taking marked the wait among the cyclists, almost all from Mid-Valley RV resorts, until the moment came to ride out across the levee and onto the park’s three-mile loop.

Read more: Cyclists join GA Olympics Bike Tour

Winter Texans join in Monarch Butterfly Festival

Pamela Drew handed 6-year-old Sienna Randall at spray bottle and explained to her what to do with the paper butterfly she had just designed.

“Go ahead and spray it sweetie,” she said at the Butterfly Craft Station. “Then we can get another color.”

Drew was one of dozens of volunteers helping out at the annual McAllen Monarch Festival, held Saturday, March 17 at Quinta Mazatlan. The festival celebrates the arrival of the Monarch Butterflies. There were crafts, nature presentations, butterfly garden information, music, art, food and more.

Read more: Winter Texans join in Monarch Butterfly Festival

Texas Onion Fest features top entertainment

20180322 Texas Onion Festival Preview MILLER DPP 0013

Dancing horses will be part of the full-day’s lineup of entertainment at this year’s Onion Fest celebration in Weslaco. The festival will be held Saturday, March 24, at Mayor Pablo City Park. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. and entertainment begins at 10 a.m.

The 1015 onion, only grown in the Rio Grande Valley, has lived up to its nickname – the “Million Dollar Baby” since its inception in the early 1980s by Texans A&M horticulture professor Dr. Leonard Pike. It took 10 years of research, continual testing and a million dollars in cost to develop. The Rio Grande Valley has been celebrating one of the state’s most successful crops ever since.

The 2018 Texas Onion Fest will be held Saturday, March 24 at Mayor Pablo City Park, 300 N. Airport Road in Weslaco. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12 and free for children ages 2 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or by visiting www.weslaco.com.

Read more: Texas Onion Fest features top entertainment

Nature lovers from across the U.S. flock to the Rio Grande

20180315 Estero Llano Grande Casey Balvert MOERING 0362One of the major attractions drawing visitors to the Rio Grande Valley is its varieties of birds and butterflies. The migration path of many of the flyers runs right through the Valley and that draws people not just from the U.S. but from many other countries in the world.

Those who come to the Valley’s World Birding Center system with its nine satellites between Roma and South Padre Island, are part of a worldwide hobby with millions of people who enjoy watching birds and recording the sightings.

There’s a lot more to this hobby than just spotting a pretty bird. Those thousands of reported sightings contribute to hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, fueling thousands of student projects while also helping inform those involved worldwide in bird population research, according to the ebird.org website.

Read more: Nature lovers from across the U.S. flock to the Rio Grande

Swing Street Band delights Winter Texans

20180315 Swing Street Big Band Dance MILLER IMG 4525Karen and Trevor Tripp moved in perfect harmony, seemingly without stress or strain as the Swing Street Band played “In the Mood.”

The couple waltzed away as Robert Comeau and his orchestra played an evening of music that covered several decades at Aladdin Villas in Mission.

“That’s why we are here, for all the dancing,” said Karen as she and Trevor took a break in between songs. “We’ll go square dancing, club dancing, social dancing – wherever there’s a dance, we’re going to try to be there.”

Read more: Swing Street Band delights Winter Texans

Why the Rio Grande Valley?

20180315 Sandcastles 111310Climate, friendly people, social activities appeal to Winter Texans

Art connoisseurs have many reasons for liking a masterpiece. For some, it may be the colors, for others the art may “just speak to them.” Yet, for others there may be another reason something undefinable – or maybe for all these reasons.

The same can be said for connoisseurs of winter travel who trek south annually to make the Rio Grande Valley their home – some for three months, some for six months or longer. For them, however, the reasons are clearly defined.

Read more: Why the Rio Grande Valley?

Fast and Furious, RC racing speeding forward

20180308 RC Racing Alamo Palms MILLER IMG 4707Tarry Freeman tinkers with his RC car in the “garage area” of the track facility at Alamo Palms.

The fans sat in the stands on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The anticipation was growing as the race cars rubbed and raced, sliding along the track at the turns.

Suddenly four cars wiped out along one of the wide, sweeping turns. The “big one happened” and the collective gasp could be heard from the race watchers.

Read more: Fast and Furious, RC racing speeding forward

Winter Texans enjoyed BorderFest 2018

20180308 Borderfest GU6C0A1165There was something for everyone to flavor at Hidalgo BorderFest 2018. Strolling the grounds at the State Farm Arena there was the Spanish cultural attraction, plenty of entertainment and food delicacies to match the taste of festgoers, whether they were Winter Texans, year-round Valley residents or young people, including kids.

For those into the music scene there were a pair of indoor concerts plus five outdoor stages. The stages also included comedy, magic and hypnotism acts. Other options involved a dog and monkey show, a bloodless bullfight, a pair of white Siberian tigers on display, a car show, a Jurassic Kingdom show, plus three parades. A food court fed the hungry and for the kids, and adults too, there were carnival rides.

Read more: Winter Texans enjoyed BorderFest 2018

Santa Maria Grand Finale Bullfight

Santa Maria Michelito LaGravereLa Gloria, Texas—Santa Maria Bull Ring will present the Grand Finale bloodless bullfight on Sunday, March 11 featuring two famous matadors returning from their European tours.

Manolo Martinez, known as the Mexicano De Oro, one of the elite matadors in the Republic of Mexico, will challenge his top competitor Michelito Lagravere, son of the famous French matador Miguel Lagravere. Both performed March 4 at the City of Hidalgo’s BorderFest festival celebrating Spain. This will be the final bullfight for the Santa Maria Bull Ring's 18th season.

Read more: Santa Maria Grand Finale Bullfight

Butterfly sculptures multiplying in Mission

oleander acres butterfly conway rd mission tx web origAn experience from some 15 years ago finally bore wings in 2016 and is celebrating Mission’s ever-growing reputation as the Butterfly Capital of the nation.

Maxilou Link, president of the Upper Valley Art League (UVAL), related that she went to Mexico to visit the well-known mountain destination migration site of Monarch butterflies, where they winter at a preserve around the 10,000-foot elevation.

“I was enthralled in seeing trees that didn’t look like trees because of how they were packed with the butterflies,” she said. “The Monarchs were like a cloud when they left their perches, landing on pathways and on the tourists’ head, shoulders and arms.”

Read more: Butterfly sculptures multiplying in Mission

Valley’s Top Entertainers named at Valley Star Awards

20180222 ValleyStarAwards GU IMG 8415If the goal of entertainers is to make an audience laugh, cry, ponder or feel emotion and become fully engaged, then the Valley Star Awards achieved its goal in spades.

Each year, Winter Texans vote for their favorite entertainers in several categories leading up to the overall Entertainer of the Year. The event is organized by producer Robert Ferguson along with the Winter Texan Times.

Read more: Valley’s Top Entertainers named at Valley Star Awards

Wintertainers™ to perform at Borderfest 2018

20180222 Borderfest Southern AnthemSouthern Anthem

Borderfest is one of the longest-standing events in South Texas and each year celebrates a different country. Borderfest 2018 will celebrate all things Spain from Friday through Sunday, March 2-4 on the grounds of and inside State Farm Arena.

Spanish food and music, a bloodless bullfight, the annual parade and the carnival are just a glimpse into the activities of the 42nd annual event.

Read more: Wintertainers™ to perform at Borderfest 2018

Petanque competitions create new friendships, good times

20180215 GAO Petaque Herb DSC 0225Nearly 240 players took to the courts Feb. 6 in quest of the gold during the Golden Age Olympics Petanque Tournament at Pleasant Valley Ranch in Mission. The sport is similar to bocce ball or lawn bowling.

Nearly 240 players, 90 percent of them French Canadians, showed up for the opening ceremonies of the Golden Age Olympic (GAO) Petanque Tournament at Pleasant Valley Resort in Mission. The resort has offered the sport of French derivation for about 20 years, hosting the GAO tournament about 10 years.

After the ceremonies, 28 teams headed for the 14 courts to begin play, a sport similar to the Italian bocce ball or lawn bowling. Teams usually involve three members, with one person tossing a tiny ball called a “jack” in English, out onto the crusher dust court surface, followed by the tossing of the first metal ball about 4 inches in diameter.

Read more: Petanque competitions create new friendships, good times

Top entertainers to perform at Valley Star Awards Saturday

20160220 Valley Star Awards LG WEBThose attending the 2018 Valley Star Awards Show are in store for a delightful evening of entertainment by some of the Rio Grande Valley’s best performers. Performing at this year’s Valley Star Awards are Dave & Daphne, Lindley Creek, Jason Whorlow, 4 His Glory, Kellie Marie, and Vance Greek.

This year’s Valley Star Awards is being held at a new location and a new time. The show will held at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17 at Casa Del Valle in Alamo.

Read more: Top entertainers to perform at Valley Star Awards Saturday

Bullfight, South Texas Style

20180215 Bullfight 13Fred Renk belies his age. At 81, he is energetic and talkative as he reigns over his Plaza Santa Maria bullfight ring in tiny La Gloria, Texas. He prefers the honorific title of Don instead of Mister, a title he can claim because his mother was Basque. Standing in the bullring addressing a crowd of mostly Winter Texans, an ever present cigarette in his hand, the former matador sets the stage for the afternoon's fights.

Read more: Bullfight, South Texas Style

Top News

  • 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… Read More +

  • 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… Read More +

  • 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,… Read More +

  • Monarch Fest at Quinta Mazatlan

    20190313 Monarch Festival Quinta MazatlanThe third annual Monarch Fest at Quinta Mazatlan will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Quinta Mazatlan is located at 600 Sunset Dr. in McAllen.

    The event celebrates the northward migration of the iconic butterfly from Mexico through the United States and into… Read More +

  • Jazz Festival features Swing Street Big Band

    20190313 Swing street group photo steveThe Swing Street Big Band is keeping big band music alive and their recent pairings with local high schools will be a lesson that musicians can perform for a long time.

    McAllen High School will be hosting a Jazz Festival Saturday, March 16 in the school auditorium at… Read More +

  • 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… Read More +

  • RGV low cost of living appeals to Winter Texans

    20190313 WT Cost Don Wes Flea Market DSC 0701 KODavid Howard and his wife live 4,200 miles from the Rio Grande Valley.

    The couple will take their time each year, leaving their home in the Canadian province of Labrador and Newfoundland to arrive at their summer home at Bit-O-Heaven RV Park in Donna.… Read More +

  • Warm weather draws Winter Texans to South Texas

    20190313 WT Weather Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6737Terry Hirschfeld was in her Kentucky home when she started making a list of “warm states.” She was tired of the cold.
    Texas made her short list.

    Now that she and her husband are here living on… Read More +

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