By Herb Moering
There is no getting around it, but it is the pleasant weather that brings visitors to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).
A typical example was the many Winter Texans attending the two-day 16th annual open house at Ron Hoover’s RV & Marine Center in Donna, January 19 and 20. Of course, it’s nice too when Dustin Hoover emphasizes freebees like admission, parking, T-shirts, food, drinks and fun.
A scavenger hunt was in the works as well, along with lots of other games and five tents filled with vendors, plus music by the Rustic Rose Band from Mercedes.
A major enticement was the chance to win a main prize each day with choices between a cargo trailer, a four-wheeler or a zero turn mower. This year’s winners were Leticia Castillo from Weslaco who chose the four wheeler and Esther Schwabe from Geneva, WI. The Schwabe’s chose the cargo trailer, saying they would use it to help their local church.
Of course, the open house allowed visitors to take a look at the latest in RV trailers and boats. Sheldon and Jacqueline Crozier, from Nova Scotia, Canada, are spending their first winter in the valley, staying at Citrus Mobile & RV Park in Edinburg. They were considering upgrading to a bigger motor home from their 24-foot-long vehicle. They are staying in a park model now.
Jacqueline, a retired teacher, said they had come to the RGV three years ago to stay a couple of weeks as her mother and two sisters had become Winter Texans.
Sheldon, who is 34-year air force veteran that included three tours of duty in Afghanistan and a few other places in the Middle East, said, “I’m lucky to be retired and can do this every year now.”
Sheldon brought his Harley motorcycle and a couple of bicycles to help learn the area, Jacqueline added. She naturally mentioned the warm weather and also how friendly the people are in their park. Sheldon said “There’s lots to do, like going dancing.” It’s nice their kids don’t have to depend on them with a son in the navy, another son is an electrician, and a daughter is a registered nurse.
Terry and Carolyn Barbee, from Lazy Palms Ranch in Edinburg, also were looking at upgrading from the travel trailer that they have pulled to 32 states since they hit the road in 2016 after his retirement and her quitting a job.
The couple, who live not far from the Mother Road, Route 66, near Litchfield, IL, headed south looking for a warmer climate. They stayed in seven different RV parks.
“We worked our way down until we found a place that was warm,” Carolyn said.
“We pick a direction for lunch and go until we find a place to eat,” Terry said. Carolyn likes to visit small towns and to look for historic buildings. But there is lots to do in their park also, like bingo, cards and Mexican train dominoes. In addition, there’s the pool table for Terry, although he claims he’s not very good.
Sitting outside enjoying the music and warmth were Winter Texans Lavelled and Erma Palmgren, who are marking their 16th year at Bit-O-Heaven RV & MH Resort in Donna. Some years back the couple from Kansas bought a trailer from Ron Hoover. Sitting with them at the table were Al and Mary Amundson, from Iowa, and Calvin and Marsha Harms, from Minnesota. Those four, who have spent two years at Alamo Rose RV Resort in Alamo, also commented on how much they like the weather.
Dustin says this is the largest dealer open house in the nation, drawing many thousands to look over RVs, boats, golf carts and utility vehicles. And this year the dealership has partnered with vendors and visitors to raise funds for the South Texas Juvenile Diabetes Association.
The event raised $27,000 during the two days which will fund summer camps, educational programs and teddy bears for newly diagnosed children in area hospitals.
Dustin said $21,000 was raised through the vendors, another $2,600 was donations from Winter Texans, and Ron Hoover paid the difference to meet their goal of $27,000.
During the event, 7,000 shirts were handed out to attendees and 7,500 hot dogs were served.