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20231213 Weslaco Parade 2 webWinter Texans joined thousands of people along the street in anticipation of the 2023 Weslaco Lighted Christmas Parade.

Near perfect weather made it even more exciting for those in attendance. Knowing what one of the alternatives is around the country made it even more special.

“This is the type of weather to watch a Christmas parade,” said Chris Clark, who along with his wife and a group of five others all hailing from Wisconsin and one rabble-rouser from Arkansas. “This is my first time at this parade.”

Mary Lauer wore a pink shirt proclaiming she was a Winter Texan and gave everyone else some fun-loving jabs and grief, then faked tears as some retaliated back jokingly. “Do you see what I have to deal with,” she joked.

That group lives either in Siesta Village or Pine to Palm, while down the road maybe 60 yards away from the Wisconsin group was a 10-pack of northern visitors, these hailing from Iowa and with plenty of golfers it seemed amongst the pack.

Mike Engleman of Mason City, Iowa was one of those golfers. He plays golf as much as possible and enjoys, among others, Monte Cristo and Tierra Santa, where he had just played and shot a 41-42 at the Weslaco course.

Engleman said the Winter Texan life in the Valley all started when he and his wife came to the Valley to visit his sister in-law.

20231213 Weslaco Parade web“They were Winter Texans and we stayed with them for a week and thought we would just be Winter Texans,” he said. “We love how friendly it is every place we have gone to, and we looked around at a lot of different parks and fell in love with Rio Estates.”

They bought a place and when it was time to go home, they didn’t want to leave.

“We went back to Mason City, put our house up for sale and sold it in six weeks,” he said. “Everything is a mile or two from our park. Texas was never on our mind, not even in the top 10, let alone five miles from the border. And here we are. We moved in six weeks ago.”

The parade with more than 100 floats, music and, of course, Santa was themed as a “Merry Movie Event” with dozens of Christmas movie-themed floats. Prior to the Christmas parade was the Santa Dash, with hundreds of runners/walkers and stroller pushers competing, many wearing festive garb and some even taking it extreme dressing entirely as Santa themselves.

Craig and Dana Daves, of Rapid City, Iowa took some time away from dances, golfing, and the wide range of activities they usually attend (and they run the dances) to enjoy the annual event. They haven’t missed a parade since moving here in 2018.

“We were Winter Texans for three years then bought a place in 2018, right across from Panther Stadium and we love it, we go to some football games there too,” Craig said.

They both golf and agreed that after living 10 years on North Padre Island, they needed to find a place with more golf courses.

“I love the courses down here,” Craig said. “There are so many more courses down here. Corpus has just two with 350,000 people. When the Winter Texans would hit, it would take forever to get a tee time.”

And what about Iowa with so many Iowans now in the Valley?

“Last person who leaves turns out the lights,” Dana said.