Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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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.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said former Dallas Cowboys Tony Hill, one of the greatest wide receivers in the storied franchise's history. “The size of this event, the people, everything here is first class – there are a lot of Cowboys fans here too; that makes it even greater.”

Close to 200 floats and balloons filled the path and the sky above it first inside McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium and then down Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen where people set up their lounge chairs hours earlier to have a good spot to see everything the parade had to offer.

“It seems like this parade gets bigger and bigger every year,” said David Ovalle, of Mercedes. “We've come the past three years and just spend a day here. After the first year we didn't really know if we were going to return, but it's just become addicting – and the city has done a good job combining all the other events surrounding this.”

Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of Miguel in the animated film “Coco,” performed with about 400-500 fourth- and fifth-grade choir students from McAllen ISD's elementary schools. Joining them were also members of McAllen High's four-time state champion Mariachi Oro, Action Dance Group and Las Palmas Folklorico Dancers.

Prior to the parade, there was no lack of entertainment with dance groups, the Valley Symphony Orchestra, the McAllen Rowe elite dancing and singing group Razz Ma Tazz, A Tuba Christmas performance and Gonzalez, who came dressed in a black Mariachi outfit, all performing before the parade.

The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard officially opened the ceremonies with a march routine that amazed the crowd prior to the presentation of flags and the singing of the National Anthem by Brianna Amaya of Razz Ma Tazz.

Other celebrities at this year's event included Dallas Cowboys legend Jay Novacek; Dallas Cowboys players Jaylon and Rod Smith; the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders; Mexican actor Arap Bethke; Mexican actress Carmen Aub; and Mexican television and film actor Iván Arana.

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