A Veterans Day Celebration over Boomerang Billy’s last Sunday, November 10, featured a two-plane formation flight by the Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The event was sponsored by Padre Island’s favorite performer, Leslie Blasing. The formation fly-over made several passes over the beachside entertainment spot.
Two passengers on the two-plane flight were Lynn Clasen and Marjorie Jacobs. The two women had participated in a fund raising drawing the previous evening. The prize was a flight over South Padre Island during Blasing’s Veterans Day Celebration.
The Rio Grande Valley Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (RGV Wing CAF) is based at the Port Isabel Cameron County Airport. The RGV Wing is one of 84 units, nationwide, of the Commemorative Air Force whose membership numbers over 11,000. The RGV Wing has seven aircraft in the hangar and has organized a walk-in museum featuring World War Two artifacts and memorabilia.
Tentative hours of operation are Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guided tours for groups of five or more are welcome by appointment anytime by calling David Christopher at (970) 397-4604.
Weather permitting, and crew availability, one of the Museum’s planes will be flown during the tour. Plane rides are available for a $250 donation. CAF are a 501c3, not for profit organization.
The comfort food of Texas Mexican cooking is coming to the Museum of South Texas History with a special presentation featuring a book signing and cooking demonstration by Chef Adán Medrano on Friday, November 22, at 2 p.m.
Medrano will demonstrate dishes from his most recent cookbook, “Don’t Count The Tortillas—The Art Of Texas Mexican Cooking.” In his cookbook, Medrano focuses on the aesthetic aspects of cooking that universally impact identity and community, with more than 100 recipes that illustrate the modern cooking in Texas kitchens.
The cooking demonstration will feature three local dishes inspired by Medrano’s research: chacales, caldo de chayote and chipotle en adobo. At the end of the presentation, visitors will have the opportunity to sample three unique dishes. Medrano will sign copies of his cookbook, which will be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
Medrano is a food writer and chef, specializing in the indigenous foods of Texas and the Americas. Medrano spent 23 years working throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia. He returned to the US in 2010 to focus his attention on the culinary traditions of the Mexican American, Native American communities of Texas and the indigenous cooking of the Americas. He is currently President of “The Texas Indigenous Food Project.”
Medrano has lectured about food and culture at academic institutions, including the Harvard University Co-op, Northeastern University and last year was invited to Moscow by the US Ambassador to Russia, as the featured Chef for the July 4th US official celebration. Medrano has showcased his recipes at the Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston; at the California, New York and Texas campuses of the Culinary Institute of America, as well as at The Briscoe Western Art Museum, the American Book Center in Amsterdam, and the Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival in Great Britain.
Admission to this program: $8 for adults; $6 for seniors (62+), students (13+) and active military; $5 for children ages 4 to 12; free for children ages 3 and under. FRIENDS of MOSTHistory are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship.
MOSTH is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit MOSTHistory.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and find us on YouTube or call (956) 383-6911.
Texas boasts some of the most diverse habitat in the United States. On Thursday, November 21 at 6 p.m., Quinta Mazatlán will host Dr. John Tomecek as guest speaker for Nights at the Mansion speaker series. Dr. Tomecek will be presenting “Wild Texas Carnivores;” sharing some of the most recent research from the Texas Carnivore Ecology Laboratory at Texas A&M University, how this work is helping us to learn more about our wild Texas carnivores, and what the future holds.
A native of central Texas, Dr. John Tomecek has spent much of his life outdoors across the state. From his upbringing on a cattle operation in the Cross Timbers and Edwards Plateau, to spending summers on his grandfather’s commercial red snapper boat in the Gulf. Presently, Dr. Tomecek serves as Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist at Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
In his capacity as university faculty, Dr. Tomecek conducts research and outreach on issues of wildlife damage and disease, ecology of mesocarnivores, and effective management of human-wildlife conflict. As leader of the Carnivore Ecology Laboratory at Texas A&M University, Dr. Tomecek and his team of graduate and undergraduate researchers work toward better understanding of carnivore ecology to inform management and improve human-carnivore interactions.
Nights at the Mansion speaker series presents noteworthy speakers and scholars to present lectures related to our global environment, local cuisine and the arts and culture. The program takes place on Thursday evenings through May 2020. The program fee is $3 per person and no advance reservation is required. Quinta Mazatlán is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall on 10th Street. For more information, contact Quinta Mazatlan at (956) 681-3370 or visit www.quintamazatlan.com or the Facebook events page facebook.com/McAllenQuintaMazatlan
As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Mission families are expressing their gratitude by giving back. Residents are filling shoeboxes with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items to send to children in need around the world. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they have ever received.
During Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week November 18 – 25, local residents, in Mission and surrounding communities, will collect shoebox gifts at drop-off locations in the area. The Samaritan’s Purse project, partnering with churches worldwide, will deliver these gifts to children in need. Area volunteers hope to collect more than 2,805 gifts during the week.
"I love seeing the local community rally together for a global impact," said Regional Director Matt McClelland. "We see all ages getting involved –and more and more every year."
Valley residents are not alone in their effort to help children around the world. More than 150,000 U.S. volunteers including families, churches and other groups are joining forces to contribute to the largest Christmas project of its kind. In 2019, Samaritan's Purse hopes to collect enough Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children, with 2,805 coming from the local area.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 817-595-2230, or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through "Follow Your Box" and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child's specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
By Herb Moering
The perfect weather arrived just in time for Mission’s first annual Veterans Festival Parade on Saturday afternoon, November 9.
The hour and a half patriotic parade was part of the city’s Veterans Day observance, which stretched over four days, starting with a flag laying ceremony Friday afternoon at the Texas State Veteran Cemetery in Mission.
It was the parade that drew several hundred spectators along Business 83, including from Mission, flag-waving Jesse Martinez and his granddaughter Jaynee, to applaud the service veterans riding in the parade.
Among those given a ride was the grand marshal, Lt. Col. Arnulfo Esqueda, a 30-year U.S. Army veteran and a Mission native.
“It was a great honor and privilege to represent all the veterans,” he said. “I want people to appreciate the veterans. Veterans want to play a role in the community.”
Esqueda joined the military at the age of 18 in 1965 and was in the Vietnam jungles for four years as a special forces operative. The green beret was a leader of one of the six-member teams involved in top secret cross border interdiction missions. His team, among others, which included two Americans and four South Vietnam soldiers each, were attached to the secret Military Assistance Command Special Operations Group. They operated mainly along the Ho Chi Ming Trail that wound through North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The retired officer said the greatest fear while deep in enemy territory was being captured. He said they were on their own at night, without communication with allied forces, but by day were back in contact and had U.S. air support if needed. What was also hard to comprehend was the condemning response from the public after returning home. There was no parade for soldiers who fought in Vietnam, he noted.
When his Vietnam tour ended in 1969, he went to college and also joined the Texas National Guard as a 2nd lieutenant, which was a part time situation until 1979. Then he went on active duty with the guard. He received his lieutenant colonel rank in 1993 and finished his service in 1995.
A World War II veteran, Savas Sandoval Jr., got to ride in a Mercedes Benz classic convertible. He served in the U.S. Army in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska from 1942 until 1945. Army 1st Sgt. Victor Fonseca was among veterans riding in golf carts.
One squad of veterans walked the parade route, which began at Conway Avenue and ended at Bryan Road. The lead parade entry was the Mission Fire Department’s 1927 fire truck, followed by color guard units and a contingent of patriotic motorcyclists. The parade included floats, school marching bands and cheerleader groups, scouting units, dance squads, and Texas Citrus Fiesta royalty.
The day also included the first Veterans Cook-off that began at 9 o’clock in the morning. A total of 26 teams competed for $5,000 in cash and trophies in five categories of chicken, pork spareribs, brisket, pan de campo and citrus dessert.
There was live music and food vendors on hand as the cookers worked their magic throughout the day. Head judge for the International Barbecue Cookers Association (IBCA), Eddie Tapia, has been running cook-off competitions for 13 years, which takes him all over the Valley. He said he began with just two events his first year, but now he averages more than two per month. His wife, Judy, helps him in distributing the entries to the local volunteer taste judges.
David Santoy, who heads the South Texas BBQ team, said he recruited eight family members and friends to join him in working the cook-off, which he’s been doing for four years. He’s out about once a month on average to compete.
“I love barbecuing and hanging out,” the Mission resident said. “It’s a ‘win, win’ time.”
Andy Garza, the head cook for the Mi Pedasito Ranch team, also from Mission, said he’s been involved in cook-offs for 10 years. He currently does about five events a year as time permits.
“I love it, being in charge,” he said. “We do it for the love of barbecue.”
His wife, Blanca, said, “We enjoy it, and it’s all family members on the team.”
The first 10 placings in each event received recognition, with the top five earning cash awards and a winning plaque to each first-place team.
The Veterans Cook-off grand championship trophy went to the Cowboy Up Cooking team headed by Ralph Flores of Edinburg. His team earned the top award by winning the pan de campo division, placing third in chicken barbecue, fourth in pork spareribs and eighth in brisket.
The reserve championship belonged to Chew N the Fat squad with head cook Jason Bartimus. Also, from Edinburg, the team topped the pork spareribs category and placed fifth in brisket.
Top finishers in the other categories included BBQ Holics, taking first in the chicken category with Hector Cantu the head cook from La Feria; the Chillin N Grillin team headed by Mario Benavides from McAllen, and Bridget Gonzalez who topped the dessert division.
The festival also included an evening of entertainment with music by several bands on stage in conjunction with the 5x5 Brewery sponsors. Kids rides went on all day.
The festival salute continued on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 10, with a Cars and Stripes car show along with a chili cook-off between five veteran’s teams, with winners chosen by “people’s choice.”
Wrapping up the celebration was the Veterans Day golf tournament, The Fairway to Freedom, a 3-person scramble. The tournament, free to veterans, was played at Sharyland Municipal Golf Course. The event was featured in last week’s paper.
It’s that time of year and McAllen Elks Lodge #1402 is holding a ‘Share the Love Food Drive’ and a toy drive. Their food drive ends on November 22.
For the food drive, they are collecting all non-perishable food items. The items will go to feed needy families in the community for Thanksgiving.
The organization’s toy and coat drive begins on November 22. They will collect items until December 20. They welcome any contributions.
You can drop off donations at the McAllen Elks Lodge, 3500 Jordan Ave. For more information, call (956) 686-3902.
McAllen Elks Lodge is a nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to invest in their communities through programs that help children grow up healthy and drug-free, meet the needs of today’s veterans, and improve the quality of life. McAllen Elks Lodge #1402 started on December 28, 1920 and will celebrate their centennial next year. They have invested over $1.7 million in charity and scholarships in the area communities.
Develop new art skills and socialize with other Winter Texans. The International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) introduces a series of four Winter Texan Workshops this December through March featuring Mexican Embroidery, Landscapes, Milagros Hoop Art, and Floral Painting.
These art workshops take place every third Saturday of the month, December through March, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Each workshop features a guided tour of a current fine art exhibit followed by a studio art-making activity and refreshments. All workshops are open to beginning and experienced artists.
On December 21, IMAS teaching artist Lisa Cortez will teach about the origin of beautiful Tenango embroidery, a distinctive Mexican fiber art form, and participants will create their own Tenango embroidery piece.
Explore the history of landscapes with a behind-the-scenes look at art works in the museum’s collection with IMAS teaching artist Roni Cortez. On January 18, 2020, she will lead this landscape painting workshop for participants at all levels – previous art experience is not required – and everyone will have the opportunity to paint with acrylics.
IMAS teaching artist Valerie Escamilla will lead the final two workshops. On February 15, 2020, she will present Milagros Hoop Art. Milagros are small metal charms commonly used in Mexican folk art. Participants will learn about this folk art and create a mixed-media work of art using milagros, felt, and embroidery.
The final workshop, Floral Painting, will take place on March 21, 2020, when participants will explore different watercolor techniques with various watercolor types and applications. A still-life bouquet of flowers will provide a starting-point composition after which participants will be encouraged to experiment painting their own spring floral design.
Visitors can also explore the IMAS fine art galleries including large-scale charcoal murals of Dialogues with Mother Earth, Highlights of the Permanent Collection, Mexican & Latin American Folk Art, and the upcoming Compulsory Measures.
Winter Texan Workshops are $10 per workshop and limited to 15 participants. All workshops include General Admission on the day of the workshop. IMAS Members receive a discount. All workshop supplies are provided.
The museum is located at the intersection of Bicentennial Way and Nolana Avenue at 1900 W. Nolana in McAllen. Log onto https://www.theimasonline.org or call (956) 681-2800 for more information.
Mission Fire Department is hosting another “Stop the Bleed,” training course. Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and call-to-action. The program teaches bystanders how to assist in an emergency before help arrives. The course will be held on Saturday, November 16 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Central Station in Mission.
The program is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage everyday citizens to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.
The purpose of the campaign is to better prepare the public to save lives. The program raises awareness of basic actions to stop life threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters.
The course is free to the public, but space is limited. If interested, please contact the Mission Fire Department at (956) 580-8705. The MFD Central Station is located at 415 W. Tom Landry Ave.
Texas historian and premiere chronicler of Texas lore to present a cultural storytelling masterwork. On Thursday, November 14th at 6 p.m., Quinta Mazatlán will host Dr. W.F. Strong as guest speaker for Nights at the Mansion speaker series. He will discuss and share excerpts from his book “Stories from Texas.”
Dr. Strong writes, “If all goes as planned, you should find plenty of laughter here and maybe even a tear or two. There is humor and pathos, joy, wonder, and some melancholic longing for a Texas that once was but can never be again.”
“Stories from Texas” is a collection of 75 radio broadcasts celebrating his home state. In 2010, Dr. Strong first began sharing stories from Texas vignettes on NPR stations. He now has his own podcast, also titled, “Stories from Texas.” His distinct Texan tongue weaves stories from How to Talk Texan to Texas Bards and Troubadours; from Tall Texas Tales to Lone Star icons like Charles Goodnight, Tom Landry and Blue Bell ice cream; from legends and heroes of the past to some heartfelt memories of his own. Dr. Strong is a Professor of Communication and Culture and a Fulbright Scholar at The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley. He also writes, occasionally, for Texas Highways Magazine.
Nights at the Mansion speaker series is free with park admission, and takes place every Thursday at 6pm through May 2020. Park admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children 3 to 12 years of old. Children 2 years and under are free. Quinta Mazatlán is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall on 10th Street. For more information, contact Quinta Mazatlán at (956) 681-3370 visit quintamazatlan.com or facebook events page facebook.com/McAllenQuintaMazatlan
Harlingen’s Hugh Ramsey Nature Park boasts 250 some species of Rio Grande Valley native plants, shrubs, trees, cactus and the untold numbers of birds, butterflies and critters that use this native habitat.
Rio Grande Valley Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist volunteers maintain Ebony Loop’s specialty gardens, working as a team every Thursday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. Many Winter Texans and local residents work alongside the naturalists. Volunteers are always welcome.
In addition to the Thursday morning volunteer opportunity, Texas master naturalists offer free guided native plant tours on the first Friday and third Saturday each month through May 2020. There will be only one held in November, on the 16th. Next one will be held December 6, and continue as scheduled.
There’s always something blooming around Ebony Loop. Hear about a fun shrub called snake eyes and maybe catch a chachalaca feasting on the berries. Mexican caesalpinia, is showy into the winter with bright yellow flowers. Learn about native plants that attract butterflies and birds.
Runyon’s esenbeckia, the rarest tree in Texas, is showcased in a garden named for historic Brownsville botanist, Robert Runyon.
One of the mysteries of our native trees is that many of them bloom after rain. With the recent rains, it’s a good opportunity to see which trees and plants will be showing their colors.
Ebony Loop is an easy quarter mile level caliche trail. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and bug spray for yourself if desired. Restrooms are located at the park entrance.
Hugh Ramsey Nature Park is at 1000 South 499, just two miles south of Harlingen’s Valley International Airport or just north of the Arroyo Colorado River Bridge on Ed Carey Dr.
Meet up with the guides in the parking lot where the two-hour tour begins at 9 a.m.
Eyes and faces were wet Monday afternoon as the colors were presented by the PSJA Early College High School JROTC during a Veterans event at Brookridge Retirement Community. Quilts in red, white and blue made by the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild hung along the stairway and banisters that circled the dining hall.
Veterans filled the dining hall and stood while the colors were posted, and they sang the national anthem. Some stood even though they needed an extra hand or something to lean on. The vets still showed their love for the country they served, even if their bodies were far different than the ones they had when they served.
The Veterans at the community were gathered to receive quilts that were lovingly made by the RGV Quilt Guild. This group of ladies work tirelessly to be able to present quilts and wall hangings to a community every Veterans Day. This year, they made over 20 quilts for the vets at Brookridge.
The event started with the presentation of the colors, then the anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and the music for each branch of military was played as well. As the music played, vets representing that branch stood at attention with their fingers to their foreheads, paying their respect to the flags, to their country, and to each other.
After this, a poem was read. The poem, titled Thank You Veterans, was written by a then fifth grader, Justin. It read,
“Thank you for the job well done.
Thank you for the battles won.
Thank you for the battles fought.
Thank you for the freedom bought.
Thank you for the time you served.
Thank you for the freedom earned.
Thank your families for sharing you.
I know they miss you, they really do.
I’m sorry for the lives that were lost.
Freedom isn’t cheap,
It comes at a very high cost.
I love my freedom,
My Red, White and Blue.
Thank you Veterans for all that you do.”
Leslie, a Brookridge representative, said a short prayer for the food and the veterans before introducing the ladies of the RGV Quilt Guild.
Quilts were presented to each Veteran in attendance. One by one they were recognized for their service.
There were petty officers, specialists, corporals, lieutenants, staff sergeants, sergeants, seamen, and other ranks of all the military branches.
One sergeant receiving a blanket was the only female WWII veteran at the community. Annette said she served in public relations. While serving, she was stationed in three different areas. She shared that she was present as they would bring in the soldiers from the hospitals.
“The hardest, was seeing those that came from Japan,” she said. “From the prisoner of war camps.”
She, as were all the other veterans, were thrilled to receive their quilts. Annette was excited to talk to one of the RGV Quilt Guild members telling her she used to sew quilts years ago.
The event included a barbecue lunch for the Veterans and their family members.
The RGV Quilt Guild has about 300 members during the Winter Texan season. The group meets every second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon at Trophy Gardens RV Park in Alamo, 800 Hwy 495. Each month features a different speaker. December 14 will feature Tina Hilton (Turtle Hand Batik) and a surprise guest. They also hold an Annual Quilt Show in February on SPI. Visit www.rgvqg.com for more information.
A simple shoebox can bring such toy to a child’s heart. This is just one purpose of Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child. Organizers are building a local team this year to help get the Valley more involved with bringing those smiles to kids faces all over the world.
This year, Elizabeth Dukquits is serving as an area coordinator. On her team is “Big” Lew Corya who serves as the church relations coordinator. They are spearheading to make the Valley more involved in the effort to gather gifts and coordinate packing the boxes and shipping them off.
Operation Christmas Child started in 1993 in the United States when Samaritan’s Purse, an organization from Wales, partnered with them, to take it global. In 2018, 10.6 million shoeboxes were given out to children all across the world. More than 8 million of those boxes came from the United States. There goal for this year is 11 million. 168 million children have received a shoebox since the beginning of Operation Christmas Child.
The project goes to over 160 countries and are pushing to get into more every year. While they want to reach as many kids as possible in impoverished, third world countries, the project is simple to take part in.
Corya, a pastor with BT McAllen, has been helping the organization for several years. BT McAllen has been participating in the collection of boxes for 15 years. Now, Corya wants to get more churches, groups, and Winter Texan parks involved.
Dukquits said, right now, even though collections are coming to an end soon, they are trying to get the word out on what people can do to help out. Their range is from Brownsville out to Laredo and to Corpus Christi. Even though Laredo and Corpus have their own drop off locations, they have chosen to spread the word as far as they can.
Corya said they will be at this year’s Winter Texan Expo. His goal is to get at least two Winter Texan volunteers that will help him make a real impact. They can start collecting or putting together boxes early and already have some things done before coming back to the Valley in the fall.
He wants help in talking to local churches and organizations to share the message of how they can help send boxes to the children.
To date, they have already collected nearly 6,000 boxes.
The program has kickoffs in early October, but they encourage people to start collecting early. The earlier you start, the more you can collect.
November 18-25 is the time to put the boxes together and make sure they are ready to be shipped off.
They said they are looking for leaders that can organize collections in their own parks, or churches, and then bring to their drop off location at BT McAllen. You collect the boxes, make sure they are packed right, and then bring to the church. BT McAllen then goes through the boxes and makes sure it is done correctly before shipping them out to their main office in Dallas.
It’s a simple program – They have suggested items to put in the shoebox for girls and boys from ages two to 14 years old. Although the
Corya suggests buying items in bulk, or they could be something as simple as party favors. The items don’t have to be expensive.... They have to be small. Most boxes have items such as baby dolls, coloring books, crayons, chalk, silly putty, socks, jump ropes, marbles, yoyos, and other small items. These are items the kids would not otherwise have.
A $9 donation per box is welcome to help with shipping and materials, but it is not a requirement to participate.
This program is helping children all over the world, said Dukquits. It’s helping those that have no access to anything. It’s non-denominational, she said, you get a box no matter what, but they do like to share a message.
Corya said Jesus is at the core of this project. While it is not mandatory for the children or families to participate, all that receive a box are invited to listen to a message. After that, they are invited to participate in a bible class that continues sharing the message of the plan of salvation.
“They don’t know God. They haven’t heard of God,” added Corya. This box plants a seed and the program helps that seed grow if they want to take part in it.
They both stressed, that the recipients do not have to participate to receive a box. “It’s an invitation.”
“No strings attached,” said Dukquits.
“It’s an opportunity,” added Corya.
They share the main message of the gift of love. When the children see these gifts and wonder why people would do such a thing for them.
“They look at this box, and they can’t believe that somebody clear across the world packed this for them,” said Dukquits.
“To them, it’s everything,” said Corya.
If you would like to help, or need a few boxes, call Dukquits at (956) 458-1005. If you would like to help out at BT McAllen, call (956) 686-5296. BT McAllen is located at 2001 Trenton Road in McAllen.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse, visit online at samaritanspurse.org/occ. For online shopping go to samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.