The 32nd SandCastle Days was held October 2 through 6 where attendees had the chance to view sandcastles built by 12 master sandcastle builders. This year’s builders came from as far as the Netherlands and Canada.
According to Lucinda Wierenga, one of the organizers of the event, this year’s event appeared to set new records.
“The weather and tide cooperated, and the police had to direct traffic all of Saturday and well into Sunday afternoon,” she said. “But now it is quiet, and the gallery is lovely, especially right at dusk.”
Wierenga added that any who want to see what there is shouldn’t wait too long. With the sandcastles, mother nature will decide when to take them out.
The event features a group sandcastle built by all 12 participants and then a contest between them.
The top three sandcastle builders were first place, Abe Waterman (Canada) for his “Three’s the Charm;” second place was Wilfred Stijger (Netherlands) for “Catch of the Day;” and third place went to Greg Grady (New Hampshire) for his sandcastle “Cosmic Drop.”
Each year the event boasts live music, art booths, great food, and exciting evenings. SandCastle Days also includes activities for all ages and activities for families. Attendees also have the opportunity to participate in SandCamps where they can learn from experienced sandcastle builders. The event is free.
If you missed this year, do not despair, said Wierenga. Just mark the first weekend of October off on your calendar to be on South Padre Island.
If you can’t wait that long, visit SPI in December to see the Holiday Sandcastle Village, which is already in production by the very same artists who competed at SandCastle Days. The sculptures are being constructed across from Louie’s Backyard in the heart of the entertainment district and will feature a dozen holiday-themed sculptures as well as a musical light show.
For more information on SandCastle Days and their other events, you can visit them online at www.sandcastledays.com, or on Facebook.
It’s been a warm one here in South Texas, but it looks like Winter Texans are bringing some of that cool weather with them as they arrive in the Valley.
This past weekend we saw our first cold front of the season and had some nice, cool days to enjoy outdoor activities. Of course, in south Texas, we enjoy our outdoors year-round, even in the heat of summer.
As usual, the Valley is a different place without you. We are happy to see you coming back home.
As the new editor of the Winter Texan Times, I myself, miss you and all that you bring to the Valley. In all of the years I have spent in this office I have made some great friendships and hold dear many memories of the Winter Texans that come through our office doors. I look forward to a great year getting to know even more Winter Texan friends.
During a recent trip to San Antonio, I saw no less than 30 Winter Texans heading south. I only counted vehicles that were pulling a home though, so who knows how many more drivers may have been Winter Texans. I encountered two Winter Texan couples at one rest stop. One couple was out with their cameras and binoculars enjoying the butterfly migration and searching for birds in the trees.
Last week, my husband and I enjoyed a nice lunch at Scalisi’s Chicago Style Pizza and More in Pharr. There we encountered two other Winter Texan couples. (By the way – their food is delicious.)
As we have been gearing up for the season, we have been meeting park managers, city leaders, and area chambers and visitor bureaus. We can tell you they have great plans for this year!
Every other year the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley conducts the Winter Texan Survey with the support of the Winter Texan Times. The information gathered in this survey is vital to helping your communities and businesses that serve the needs of Winter Texans understand the Winter Texan resident and how important you are to our communities. Keep an eye out for that later this year and make sure you fill out your survey.
If you have a great story idea, we love new suggestions. Send us your ideas to email@example.com. Some types of stories we may be interested in could be profile pieces, unique activities or events in your community, how is your park involved in local charity work, or any of the myriad of great human interest stories we stumble across all the time in our Winter Texan parks.
As you can see from this issue, there are already a lot of events happening all around for you to enjoy. Take a look at our Parks Calendar and our Events Calendar inside.
We here at the Winter Texan Times hope you found your way safely to your south Texas home and enjoy your stay with us this season.
Carina A. Brunson
The Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum will be hosting their A Night in Old Mexico themed Taste of Harlingen on Thursday, October 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will feature over a dozen participating restaurants with food for attendees to enjoy. The event will also include a silent auction.
Some of the participating restaurants include many of your known chains such as Applebee’s, Cheddar’s, Chili’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Jason’s Deli, Texas Roadhouse and Russo’s NY Pizzeria. Other restaurants in attendance will be Classic’s Bar and Grill, Gracie’s Goodies, Harlingen Country Club, HIME Sushi Bar and Grill, Keto Mini Donuts, La Playa, Schoolhouse Creamery, Taco Palenque and Tropical Smoothie Café.
Taste of Harlingen is the museum’s primary fundraiser that helps with the restoration of the historical building, preserving Harlingen’s history and enable the museum to bring art exhibits for visitors to enjoy. Last year the event drew nearly 600 attendees.
The event allows patrons to taste Harlingen’s local restaurants cuisine while enjoying live music by Jaime G. and the Adel’s. Patron’s will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite restaurant for a People’s Choice Award. The silent auction will feature items donated by local businesses and individuals.
The evening guarantees great conversation, delicious food and enticing aromas. Attendees are welcome to wear themed costumes and visit All Valley Photo Booth where they can choose from props and pose for some pictures to take home.
Advance tickets are available at Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, the Museum, and from board members and volunteers. Advance tickets are $75 or tickets are $85 at the door. The event will be held at the museum at 2425 Boxwood in Harlingen.
For more information, call (956) 216-4904 or visit www.tasteofharlingen.com.
The Raymondville Chamber of Commerce is holding the 20th Annual Wild in Willacy Nature and Heritage Festival this weekend. The event starts Thursday, October 17, with a children’s program where visitors can view exhibits, demonstrations, nature photography and artwork.
Tours begin on Friday, October 18 with planned tours to local ranches. Tours require preregistration. Please visit their website for more details or to see if space is still available. Tours will meet at the L.E. Franks Tourist Center.
On Saturday, October 19, activities will include indoor and outdoor vendor booths, food trucks, live entertainment, school performances, cook offs and much more. This day’s events start at 3 p.m. with live music, featuring Jaime DeAnda, Midnight Run and DDD, starting at 6 p.m.
The festival is a means of showcasing and creating awareness of Raymondville’s, and the surrounding areas, natural treasures and promoting eco-tourism in the Willacy County area. Over the years, the festival has brought hundreds of local and out of town guests into the community. From Port Mansfield, to ranches east and west, north and south, Willacy County has an abundance of diverse and natural treasures. Wild in Willacy offers its guests an opportunity to experience the outdoors through tours of otherwise inaccessible ranches while enjoying bird watching, wildlife viewing and listening to history of the toured ranches.
Programs will be held at the L.E. Franks Tourist Center at 501 S. 7th St. in Raymondville. Artwork will be displayed at the Willacy County Art League building.
For more information visit their website at www.wildinwillacy.weebly.com or call (956) 689-1864.
San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum will host an art exhibit titled Sacred Wisdom: An Exhibition by Jessica Monroe. An opening reception will be held on October 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will be on display until November 27.
Monroe is best known for her large-scale oil paintings inspired by the natural world. Interested in using art as a means to bring awareness of environmental issues, her paintings are full of energy and movement, celebrating the beauty of her subject. Exploring delicate and endangered ecosystems, Monroe often works outdoors using watercolor, pastels and a camera.
Monroe holds a Bachelor of Arts from Southwestern University and studied painting at New York University and the School of Art Institute of Chicago. For over 15 years, Monroe has exhibited her work throughout Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, and taught art to students of all ages.
The museum is located at 250 E. Heywood St. Call (956) 281-0810 for more information.
The Museum of South Texas History’s Sunday Speaker Series will be a presentation on “World War I History in the Rio Grande Valley” featuring Charles Vincent Waite and Michael Faubion. The event will be held October 13 from 2 to 3 p.m.
Waite and Faubion will present how military reforms at the turn of the 20th century influenced the development of the National Guard. They will also discuss units deployed in the Rio Grande Valley, the local influences and overall impact on South Texas.
Faubion received a bachelor’s of arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and a master’s of arts and doctorate’s degree in history from Texas Tech University. Faubion began teaching at the former University of Texas Pan American in 1990 where he served as History Department chair, and is currently serving as interim Director of Creative Writing Program and as a member of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley history faculty.
Waite earned a bachelor’s in history from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in history from Texas State University and a doctorate’s from Texas Tech University. Waite began teaching in 1992 as an Instructor at Texas State University, and then as a visiting assistant professor at Texas Tech University. Since 2004, Waite has been a lecturer, assistant professor and associate professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
The museum is located at 200 N. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg. For more information call (956) 383-6911 or visit their web page at https://mosthistory.org/
Christine Ten Eyck will be sharing her passion for human and ecological wellbeing as she presents “Return of the Natives,” as keynote speaker at Quinta Mazatlán’s 2019 Planta Nativa on Thursday, October 17. Planta Nativa is an annual Texas Native Plant Celebration with all-inclusive happenings such as live music, art, food, adult beverages and education. The Majestic Mesquite is this year’s theme.
“We are both honored and thrilled to have Christine Ten Eyck, advisor to the State Department, empowering us at Planta Nativa this year,” said Lisa Ramirez, Recreation Supervisor at Quinta Mazatlán. “Christine’s designs respond to context, celebrate native ecologies and connect people with each other.”
Christine Ten Eyck, is a renowned Landscape Architect known for her ability to connect native plants, local culture, water conservation, and sustainable resources in a way that is both beautiful and practical. Awards recognizing Christine’s contributions to landscape architecture as an advocate for sustainability and landscape authenticity include the United States Senate Congressional Commendation for Historic Preservation, National Trust for Historic Preservation Landscape Architecture Award, Cities Alive Green Roof & Wall Award of Excellence, Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Award of Excellence, in addition to numerous national and state chapter awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Planta Nativa takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Quinta Mazatlán located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen. Tickets are $15 and are all-inclusive. Advance ticket purchase is required via Ticketmaster.com (search: “Planta Nativa”). Space is limited. For more information visit www.quintamazatlan.com or www.facebook.com/McAllenQuintaMazatlan.
The City of South Padre Island and Sandcastle Days founders Walter McDonald and Lucinda Wierenga are hosting 32nd annual Sandcastle Days October 2 through October 6. Admission is free and boasts live music, art booths, great food, and exciting evenings.
Lucinda says they are very excited for this year’s event that includes 12 master sculptors. These sculptors come from as far away as Netherlands and Canada.
“There will be music, tasty treats from Island restaurants, a silent auction for some wonderful items, and you can get a closeup look at the sculptures while mingling with the artists who created them,” added Lucinda.
Today’s festivities start with an event where visitors can watch the Masters of Sand carve as a group.
On Wednesday, October 3, the official Master of Sands competition will begin with individuals working their magic on their own sculptures. Friday, October 4, sand sculpting will continue and registration for an amateur competition will open at 9 a.m. Children, family, groups and singles are invited to participate in the competition from 1 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, October 5, SandCamp, a free sandcastle lesson, will begin at 8 a.m. Another amateur competition will open for registration at 8 a.m. with the sandcastle building beginning at 9 a.m. The Unlitter Campaign’s 10th Annual Trashion Show, themed Star Wars, will begin at 4 p.m. Judging of the amateur and master sand builders will take place with awards given at 4:30 p.m.
SandCamp will be held again on Sunday, October 6, at 10 a.m. People’s Choice awards will be awarded at 3 p.m.
The Sandcastle Days Mercado is open each day from 10 a.m. to closing. The event will also feature live music at Clayton’s, waters slides, bull riding, vendors, things for kids to play, and more for all ages.
Master Sand sculptors McDonald (aka Amazin Walter) and Wierenga (aka Sandy Feet) are South Padre Island residents and 32 years ago started Sandcastle Days to demonstrate the magical sculpting qualities of South Padre Island sand and the critical importance of protecting our beautiful coastal shores. Over the years this free family-fun event has grown from a local celebration to a qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting where over 30,000 fans come to watch the sand come alive.
The event will be held at Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill at 6900 Padre Blvd. on South Padre Island. For more information and the full calendar, visit, http://sandcastledays.com/.
Editor’s Note: Virginia was a valued member of the Winter Texan Times for 13 years. We express our condolences to Virginia’s family. She will be missed by us and the Winter Texan community.
Virginia Sunderman, 95, of Lake Katrine, died Wednesday, August 21, 2019, at her home. A native of Huntington, Indiana, she was a daughter of the late Forrest and Effie Couch Lamb.
She was employed at Indiana Bell Telephone Company, Huntington, Indiana, for 25 years, retiring in 1976 as service representative. After retirement, she and her late husband, Glenn, spent winters in Texas where she was editor and feature writer for the Winter Texan Times, Mission, Texas, for 13 seasons. She also tutored at Mission Junior High School.
Virginia was president of Oleander Acres Club in Oleander Acres Park during the couple’s stay in Texas, and she served as emcee for many jam sessions in the Mission area. She was a Winter Texan member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Mission.
Virginia is survived by her daughter, Bonnie Langston and her husband Sid Leavitt of Lake Katrine; two grandchildren, Brett Langston and partner Janani Ramprasad of Ravena and Todd Langston and partner Donna Brunig of Clifton Park; two sisters, Patricia Maddox of Wilmore, Kentucky, and Dorothea Lineback of Cypress, California.
Virginia is also survived by a former foreign exchange student who came to live for a year with her and Glenn 50 years ago, Hans Werner Jany, a native of Germany.
In addition to her parents, Virginia was predeceased by her son, Roger Lee Sunderman who died in 1970, as well as brothers-in-law Ed Lineback and Dr. Paul Maddox.
Visitation will be at Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home in Kingston, NY on Sunday, August 25, 2019. Online condolences may be left at www.SimpsonGaus.com.
Mission makes history by earning its first ever All-America City title
Mission, TX- It was a mission accomplished. For the first time ever, the City of Mission was named an All-America City on June 23, 2019 at the 70th annual All-America City awards in Denver.
“I have always known Mission is a city with endless possibilities,” Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña said. “Being named a 2019 All-America City just emphasizes our place among the great cities of our nation. This is one of the goals I wanted to achieve for our community, and thanks to our civic engagement, our devoted delegation and our great projects we did it!”
The National Civic League recognizes ten communities each year for exceptional civic accomplishments. To win, each community must demonstrate civic engagement, innovation, inclusiveness and collaboration by describing effective efforts to address pressing local challenges. The finalist cities traveled to Denver to make presentations before a jury panel to demonstrate why their community deserved the All-America City designation. The presentations from each city included skits, music, impassioned speeches and testimonials from community members.
This is the first year the City of Mission applied for the award, and they were named a top 20 finalist. Their theme was: Mission Possible, a play off the American action spy films starring Tom Cruise. Part of Mission’s skit included Cristina Garza, the Director of Social Impact at the Mission Economic Development Corporation. Garza dressed up as “Ruby the Grapefruit,” the Mission Chamber of Commerce’s celebrated mascot.
“As soon as I saw the costume, I knew I wanted that to be my role,” Garza said. “I got the job by simply telling people individually that I was going to be the grapefruit, that it was decided. No one contested it or even questioned my assertion. Success is about creating opportunities for oneself.”
For this year’s award, the National Civic League placed an emphasis on creating healthy communities through inclusive civic engagement. Mission’s presentation highlighted the city’s pet adoption program — Mission Pawsible, the expansion of the local food pantry and the addition of outdoor food blessing boxes for families in need after closing hours, along with their tennis program for the visually impaired. The honor came at a time of deep sadness for the city following the death of a Mission police officer.
“A lot of people in the delegation didn't lose a city employee, they lost their personal friend. For many, it was hard to stay focused when their hearts were back in Mission, but their commitment to the competition mirrored their commitment to the city,” Garza said. “More than ever, the delegation wanted to show a united front and to share with everyone the closeness of our community in the face of adversity and pain. The delegation made sure to publicly uphold and celebrate the worth of the community Corporal Espericueta lived to protect and serve.”
Cpl. Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta was killed responding to a call of an armed man. The ensuing exchange of gunfire between the suspect and the responding officers resulted in the deaths of both Espericueta and the suspect.
“Our Mission delegation worked tremendously hard for this award. We arrived in Denver only to deal with the devastating news of the loss of our Mission police officer,” City Manager Randy Perez said. “I boarded a plane early the next morning and left even though I was part of the presentation. It was heartbreaking for our community. Our delegation rallied and they represented the best Mission has to offer and proved what a wonderful place Mission is to live, in memory of Speedy.”
The All-America City Award shines a spotlight on the incredible work taking place in communities across the country. The city dedicated its award to Espericueta.
“We did this for Speedy. Our community came together and honored his memory with this historic win,” Mayor O’Caña said. “We lost our friend and hero in the line of duty as he was protecting our community. The way our city responded with heart and soul shows why we are an All-America City.”
It was an anxious awards presentation for the Mission delegation of 27. Mission was the last city announced as a winner. Garza said the nationwide recognition was well earned.
“Mission won because our values can be measured in the quantity and quality of programs that engage our residents. We had a very strong application that highlighted our inclusive community programs, a great presentation coordinated by Roxanne Lerma and Aida Lerma, and an unmatched delegation of committed Mission residents that passionately represented our city.”
The City of Mission – where anything and everything is possible!