Thursday, March 21, 2019
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20190313 WT Fun 01When winter visitors come to South Texas, they want to have fun!

And that’s what the activity directors in the mobile home and RV resorts do best. They make sure there are plenty of fun activities for their park residents to enjoy.

The activity schedule at most parks is extensive, offering a wide array of activities and entertainment. While Winter Texans still enjoy many of the traditional activities such as dances, movie nights, park socials and live entertainment by performers from Branson and Nashville – at low, low prices – some new trends have emerged as younger retirees discover the Rio Grande Valley.

Pickleball, RC (remote-control) racing, and rock ‘n roll music are all the rage for Winter Texans in South Texas. These are just a few of the newest activities added to a menu of fun things to do.

These activities have exploded onto the Rio Grande Valley scene over the past two to three years and the local mobile home and RV resorts are quickly building new pickleball courts, constructing oval and figure-eight RC tracks, and booking more rock ‘n roll entertainment to provide more reasons for retirees to spend their winters in South Texas.

Bean Bag Baseball Too!

20190313 WT Fun 02But there's another activity that is coming on strong. It's one that Bentsen Grove Resort activity director Peggy Creach said just kind of snuck up and became an overnight sensation. That's the good old bean bag toss, which many parks have turned into a competitive game of bean bag baseball.

“A lot of people come out to play it every week,” Creach said. “It's something that everybody can play and it became really popular, really fast.”

The baseballs are the bean bags and the targets are holes inside a wooden board placed 17 feet away from the batters. The batters aim for holes designated 1B (single), 2B (double), 3B (triple) or Home Run, while trying to avoid the negative consequences like “out” and “strike” holes.

Multiple games are played at the same time at Country Sunshine RV Park, said Activity Director Debbie Stout, who saw the game played first at Mission West and introduced it to both Country Sunshine and Southern Comfort RV parks; so far it has been a hit.

Pat Stillar, a Minnesota resident, has become a pro of sorts – in the sport. Not only does he play at the park, but he also competes in the Senior Olympics.

“I love sports,” he said. “I’m involved in the senior Olympics and love to throw horseshoes – I’m pretty good at that – and bean bag toss and pool.”

Thirty-two teams from different Wilder Resorts converged on Texas Trails RV Resort to hold their first bean-bag tournament – that's how popular that activity has become overnight.

Pickleball Grows in Popularity

Pickleball, which combines elements of tennis and badminton, is a game of strategy and teamwork. Unlike tennis and badminton, it's not about power, but more about precision. Bentsen Grove, Llano Grande, Pine to Palm, Texas Trails, VIP La Feria, Victoria Palms, and several other parks have either adapted their tennis courts to be pickleball courts, or built new courts.

20190313 WT Fun 04Larry Vermeesch, director of pickleball at Bentsen Grove Resort, said that there are more than 100 registered players for pickleball. The park built a 65-foot by 60-foot indoor, air-conditioned court that has been hugely popular.

“This is great for recruiting new Winter Texans to the park,” he said. “It's also great to play because it doesn't require as much running as tennis. But it sure does get intense.”

Some of the local cities, such as Mission, now offer pickleball as a regular part of their Parks & Recreation program.

Lou Dewaele, activity director at Texas Trails RV Resort, said that they started out with about six to eight pickleball players. Now they have closer to 50 and have “lined up” two indoor pickleball courts as well as three outdoor ones.
RC Racing

RC racing has also taken South Texas by storm. From Penitas RV Park, which has offered RC racing years before everyone else joined the fun, to some of the newest tracks, including Bit-O-Heaven, Alamo Palms, Alamo Rec-Veh and Texas Trails RV, among others. Most tracks are oval or figure-eight tracks, but there are a couple of trawler tracks for those who want to bring out their “monster” RC trucks and battle the obstacle course.

“This is something the residents wanted and it has grown unbelievably fast,” said Rocky Ramirez, manager of Alamo Palms – an avid RC competitor. “We want to get other parks involved and compete against others and make this something that's huge because people are really enjoying it.”

And So Much More

20180306 GulfcourseRace Mission GU 4335There are so many more things to do for fun at the parks – shuffleboard and cycling are still very popular, as well as woodworking, dances, socials and dinners, movie nights, and arts and crafts. Some of the resorts even offer lapidary shops, many have quilting, sewing and craft rooms and at least one has a gun range. And, of course there are top-of-the-line entertainers who regularly perform in the resorts, as well as jam sessions, with rock ‘n roll music becoming increasingly popular.

“We had to change our lineup around for more rock 'n roll jams,” Creach said. “There's a new generation of Winter Texans coming and they love that music.”

It's not unusual to hear stories of 200, 300 or more people filling recreation halls to listen to, or participate in the rock 'n roll jams.

McAllen Mobile Park opened its season with an invitation only rock 'n roll jam. Not only were some of the Valley's finest performers there but the hall was standing room only.

Country music jams are still incredibly popular, but rock is pushing its way to the top.

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