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.
Jim Bartelt was out golfing for the first time in five years.
The Minnesota resident and Navy veteran, now a Winter Texan for 13 years, couldn’t golf because of a surgery, “and falling down the stairs didn’t help,” he said.
He was one of more than 100 veterans who enjoyed a free day on Shary Municipal Golf Course as part of the City of Mission’s Veterans Weekend celebration.
“The first thing I want to do is thank God for letting us be able to serve these veterans who have served our country,” Mission Mayor Armando O’Cana said. “This veteran’s weekend is going to become an annual thing. The feed back and reaction to these events have been wonderful.”
The City of Mission, Ready Tee, the Red, White and Blue Foundation and Lone Star National Bank were major sponsors and not only provided the veterans with the free tournament, but also fed them on the course with tacos, ribs, grilled pineapple and more at hole No. 10, sponsored by the O’Cana family.
The Mayor said that while he was not a veteran, his dad served during World War II and his brothers both had tours of duty in Vietnam. He added that he was a golfer however who played military-style golf. “I hit my ball left, then right, then left...” he joked.
The city turned a Veterans Day into a full weekend celebration with events including a solemn flag ceremony where they placed a flag at every tombstone in the Mission Veterans Cemetery, opened the Veterans Park to the public, had what they expected to be a small parade turn into an event with 70 entries, a car show and other events at 5x5 Brewery, and a one-stop shop with more than 20 agencies in attendance that serve veterans to provide information and services.
“We also had a Vaquero cook off, and a chili cook off with different groups representing different branches,” the mayor said. “A group of cooks from the Marines won that event.
“Our veterans have already given the time for us to be able to be free and to run a city government in a peaceful setting,” O’Cana said. “Now we are committed to making this an annual event that’s bigger and better.”
Door prizes were given to each of the 108 veterans who participated.
“This is a great day,” said Bartelt, who resides at W&I a Resort in Mission, a park he said his in-laws started. “My doctor said I could give it a try, so I am doing it. This is a great event and was a terrific weekend. I love it.”
Many Winter Texans take time to donate to local charities while they are here in the Rio Grande Valley. There are many organizations, school, churches, and other places and organizations, that you spend your time with while in the Valley. As we approach the holiday season, our hearts are drawn to those less fortunate – especially children in the community and those across the border. Without the generosity of others, these children, and families, would have a very sad and bleak Christmas.
Winter Texans have a reputation for their generous hearts and are known to plan food and clothing drives, make quilts, and gather donations for the many needy families and children in the Valley and Mexico. If your park or resort is planning anything for Thanksgiving or Christmas, such as food or toy drives, or any other activities to help brighten the holidays for the less fortunate, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (956) 580-7800. We would love to hear from you and share your story with others.
With the holidays just around the corner, some of those places are already asking for help. This organization is just one that is already seeking help from their community.
As most know from being located so close to the border of Mexico, many children go without proper food, shelter and essential medical care every day due to a variety of factors. This need is magnified when so many children are denied even the blessings of the Christmas season.
Amigos de Los Ninos de Mexico (friends of the children of Mexico) was organized in 1990 to address this need through gifts of friendship, love, food and presents to the children.
There are many ways you can help. You can help by becoming an Amigo member by attending a meeting and buying a one-time $5 badge; donate or gather some of the needed items; or have fun with the children when they are presented their goodies.
Some big ways to help include going across the border in a caravan of vehicles on December 23rd to bring the gifts collected and get them set up for Christmas day or to sign up to help with various committees who will be distributing the goodies to the children.
General meetings will be held at the Donna First Methodist Church, 228 S. Main St. at 1:30 p.m. Dates for meetings are November 12 and 26, and December 10. December 23 is when the group will be crossing the border with the gifts and December 25 is the Christmas party at the school. A follow-up meeting will be held in January to elect new officers and board members.
For more information, call Barbara at (956) 244-3485.
Again, if your park or resort is doing anything special for those in need, please let us know. Also let us know of any special holiday activities at your park. We look forward to featuring your activities and the ways you help the communities you live in while you enjoy your stay in the Valley.
Chef JoAnna Villarreal-Martinez, Culinary Instructor at South Texas College, will be conducting a live cooking demonstration at Quinta Mazatlán’s Nights at the Mansion speaker series Thursday, November 7 at 6 p.m.
Read more: Cooking Demo & Tasting at Quinta Mazatlan
The Rio Grande Valley Aviation and Transportation Museum is ready for the public. Located within the Port Isabel Cameron County Airport, it is on Veterans Drive, two miles north of FM 510, and off of Buena Vista Blvd.
World War Two exhibits include many artifacts donated by local families. Among the more notable is an Amateur Radio Operator’s logbook, Morse Code keying device, and earphone set. Amateur Radio Operator, John Paul Jones from Brownsville, was the first person in the Rio Grande Valley to learn about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which precipitated the United States entry into World War Two. His logbook notates the time he was in communication with a fellow radio operator from Hawaii and during the attack. His logbook also notates the time the Federal Communications Commission instructed amateur radio operators to clear the air waves for a national emergency, December 7, 1941, “A Day that Will Live in Infamy”.
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. Tentative hours of operation beginning today, November 6, are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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. We are a 501c3, not for profit organization. If you would like more information about the CAF please call Tom Santos at 956-579-2611 or email email@example.com
As we celebrate Veterans Day this weekend, we here at the Winter Texan Times, want to give a big Thank You to all who have served in the United States armed forces. Thank you for your dedication, patriotism and the sacrifices you have made to defend America and preserve the freedoms we all enjoy today, and every day. You deserve our respect and honor.
In honor of Veterans Day, many cities and organizations are honoring Veterans in their communities. These events are open to the public.
The VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB) is scheduled to host the Pre-Veterans Day Hotdog BBQ on Thursday, November 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the McAllen VA Outpatient Clinic, 901 East Hackberry Ave.
Lyford CISD will pay tribute to the Nation’s Veterans at their 31st Annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Friday, November 8 at 9:30 a.m. The event will be held at the Bulldog Stadium, 8204 Simon Gomez Rd. The ceremony will honor local heroes and their families from across the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.
The City of Mission will hold a Flag Laying Ceremony at 4 p.m. on Monday, November 8, at the RGV State Veterans Cemetery, 2520 Inspiration Rd. Call (956) 583-7227 for more information. The city, in conjunction with 5X5 Brewing and Texas Citrus Fiesta, will have events throughout the weekend honoring Veterans including a parade, chili cook-off, a golf tournament, and entertainment. More details are in the full story in this week’s edition or you can go online to missionvet.com.
The VCB will also host a Veterans Day Celebration on Friday, November 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Harlingen VA Outpatient Clinic, 2106 Treasure Hills Blvd. The event will feature food, a raffle, car show and benefits fair.
On Saturday, November 9, join the City of South Padre Island, the Southernmost point on the Purple Heart Trail, for a weekend filled with family-friendly events to honor and celebrate our Veterans. The day’s events begin with a SPI Beach 13.1 Relay and 5K at Isla Blanca Park. A Veterans Day City program will be held at the SPI Convention Center starting at 11 a.m. along with a Food Truck Festival at 12 p.m. There will be a La Mafia Concert at the Cameron County Amphiteater (Isla Blanca Park) at 4 p.m.
The American Legion Family Post 172, Mercedes ISD and the City of Mercedes are sponsoring an Annual Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 9 at 10 a.m. The parade will begin at the corner of 6th St. and Texas and end at the Mercedes Livestock Show Grounds.
A Veteran’s Day Parade will be held Saturday, November 9, in the City of Edinburg. The parade will begin at Richard R. Flores Stadium, 1800 S. Stadium Dr., and run through Closner & Kuhn St. Set up begins at 8 am, parade begins at 10 a.m. For more information, contact (956) 383-6246.
The Third Annual Military Ball will be held Sunday, November 10, at Isla Grand Beach Resort, 500 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island. The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. The event will feature a dinner, dance and door prizes. Marines will perform the traditional cak cutting ceremony. Tickets can be purchased by going to their website at https://sotxmilitaryball.com/.
The City of San Benito is having a Veteran’s Day community-wide march downtown San Benito beginning at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, November 11. The event will end with a ceremony at 9 a.m. at the San Benito Veterans War Memorial, 2115 North Oscar Williams Road.
A Veteran’s Day Ceremony will be held Monday, November 11, in Alamo at the Veteran’s Memorial Park, 311 N. Alamo Rd. The event will begin at 9 a.m.
Veterans Day will be celebrated on Monday, November 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas, 29th St. and Col. Plummer Dr. The event will start with the beautiful voices of the McAllen High School band and choir. First Sgt. Christina Wilson will be speaking to guests from Afghanistan. The band and choir will perform the beautiful hymn The Battle of the Republic. This beautiful and inspiring song will be followed by the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Regiment, (USA) and its members. The medal will be presented to Myriam Morales Klusmann, for her brother Jose who was killed in Korea. Master Sergeant Daniel Jaime, Purple Heart recipient, will also be recognized with this medal. Keynote speaker will be U.S. Congressman Vincente Gonzalez, District 15. While you are at the Memorial, visit the 15 new walls which will be the children’s Plaza of History stories. They will be engraved in granite. These stories will be authored by school children and form the basis for the new “Children’s Library of American History Stories.” For further information please call Col. Frank Plummer at (956) 631-2511 or Jan Hartzog at (956) 585-1312.
The McAllen Wind Ensemble will open their season Tuesday, November 12, with a veteran’s tribute titled “America,” at 7:30 p.m. at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. All veterans, current service members, and first responders are invited to be guests of the McAllen Wind Ensemble with free admission to the concert. Special guests will include the Sweet Adelines. The performing arts center is located at 801 Convention, C St. Go to http://www.mcallentownband.org/all-events/ for more information and to purchase tickets.
Each year, thousands of people unite to commemorate Veterans Day, a holiday that honors all those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it is largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. This year, the City of Mission is honoring local military heroes with its weekend-long Mission Veterans Festival, “Our Mission is Service,” beginning Friday, November 8, with a flag-laying ceremony at the RGV State Veterans Ceremony, 2520 Inspiration Rd, in Mission.
“Veterans Day is not just a chance to enjoy an extra day off from work or school. We want to make sure our community recognizes its true purpose,” Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña said. “We must acknowledge the men and women who have served in our armed forces and we’re hoping that some World War II and Korean War veterans join us. We need our citizens to come out and wear their red, white and blue, bring the family and honor our heroes with this exciting new event.”
On Saturday, November 9, the full-day celebration kicks off with the Saluting Our Veterans Cook-Off from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the CEED Building, Bryan Rd. and Bus. 83. There will be live music, food vendors and more. A fair with vendors will also take place at the City of Mission Parks and Recreation building next door to the CEED Building, from 5 to 8 p.m.
The day will continue with the Mission Veterans Day Parade at 3 p.m. The procession will begin at Leo Peña Placita Park, runs east on Business-83 to Bryan Road and end at the CEED building.
The festive parade will showcase floats, RGV veterans, military vehicles, festooned golf carts and local marching bands. A military flyover is also scheduled for the parade. The procession is expected to wrap up by 5 p.m.
Community members can then take part in the Mission Veterans Day Festival from 5 p.m. until midnight outside the CEED building in conjunction with the 5x5 Brewing Company. There will be plenty of family-friendly entertainment including live local music performances. Taste-tempting delights will be available for purchase from several food trucks and food vendors. Military vehicles are being sought for display at the festival. In addition, veterans’ organizations will be on hand to promote military services and government resources available to veterans.
“We will also be having a chili cook-off at 5x5 on Sunday between five veteran teams to include the army, marine corps, navy, air force and the coast guard,” Sean Downey, Brand Manager of the 5x5 Brewing Company said. “The winner will be decided by the people’s choice so it should be a good showdown.”
The Chili Cook-Off will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, November 10 at 5x5 Brewing. The cook-off will be between five veteran teams competing for bragging right on the best chili in the US military. Teams competing will be from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
A Cars and Stripes Car Show will also take place on Sunday from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Setup will start at 12 p.m. Rewards will be given at 6 p.m. for best overall, best Veteran entry, best car, best truck and best motorcycle. Sunday events will benefit Sand Devils MC and American Legion.
The celebration recognizing military men and women will continue Monday, November 11 at 8 a.m. with a golf tournament at Shary Municipal Golf Course. The tournament be free for all veterans. Ready Tee Golf has teamed up with the City of Mission for the first-of-its-kind Veterans Day Golf Tournament. The “Fairway to Freedom” is a 3-man Florida scramble. It will be a fun filled day with food, beverages, door prizes and comrades.
“We want this weekend to lead into Veterans Day and for our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, to know that we cannot thank them enough,” Mayor O’Caña said.
Full information can be found online at missionvetfest.com.
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is to keep the planes from WWII flying. What started with one plane has grown not only into a mission to save the planes from the era, but to also keep them in their natural habitat – in the air.
More than 11,000 volunteers work to keep the airplanes flying so generations can “see, hear, feel, and experience the power and majesty of these aircraft in operation.” The CAF goal is to keep these airplanes alive to “tell the story of the greatest generation.”
Read more: The Mission: To keep the planes flying