Tuesday, July 16, 2019
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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, you're not going to like living anywhere.”

“Not enough people know about the Valley,” said the Wisconsin resident who spends the winters with his wife in Lamplighter Park in Palmview. “This place is a paradise. We have traveled a lot and still do. But we love the Mexican culture here, love the family ideals, the friendly people at the park – there are no better people in the world than in the Valley.

“People need to know that.”

A Navy veteran who later drove trucks all over the country for a living started researching where he and Jan could go during the winter months. He posted the question to his friends and on social media – Texas or Florida?

“People said 'go to Florida if you want beaches,'” Larry said. “For friendly people, go to Texas.”

Even then, the couple in their motorhome made the trip to Houston, which was part of a regular route Larry would drive while trucking (Houston to Chicago). He was somewhat familiar with the area, but it was still not what they were looking for.

“People were telling me about the Valley – some were saying don't go – but they were saying it was 10 to 15 degrees warmer daily,” Mainz said. “So I was playing around on the Internet and saw it was close to a Miami climate – and Miami was straight across to the East. We came, we bought a mobile home and we fell in love with the Valley.”

Mainz said that there's a lot of incorrect information circulated about the Valley and he wants people to know the truth. He's always sharing things about the Valley with his friends, inviting them to come down for the winter, including one of his friends who moved to Weslaco last year.

“I don't think enough people know about the Valley, or they hear stories that are negative – ‘it's too windy, the border is bad.’ We live here, we go to Mexico. All of that just isn't true,” he said.

The couple enjoys going to different activities, especially jams and other shows. Jan also plays cards – lots and lots of cards.

“They'll have dinners here two nights a week before the jams or shows and we love that,” he said. “We love country western shows, any type of old country and old rock from the 50s and 60s and we go to a show every night of the week.”

As the time draws near to pack up and head back north, they plan to take their time on a leisurely trip back to Wisconsin.

“We appreciate being called Winter Texans,” Mainz said. “This is a storybook place and I just get goosebumps when I talk about this place to people. I told my wife 'I don't want to go home this year.’

“She told me, 'you are home.'”

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