Text Size

DSC 1111 webBy Herb Moering

Several thousand Winter Texans took advantage of nice weather to inspect the latest in RV fifth wheels, motor homes, boats and 4-wheelers on opening day, Jan. 11, of the 17th annual Ron Hoover RV & Marine Center Open House in Donna. Visitors were treated to free hotdogs and soft drinks along with chances to win door prizes and a grand prize in a drawing at the end of both afternoons of the open house.

The grand prize winners were Luis Lopez, who chose the four-wheeler; and Dan and Sherry Zirnhelt from Forman, North Dakota, who chose the enclosed utility trailer.

Not only did the event continue to support the South Texas Juvenile Diabetes Association with donations and vendor entry fees, but they also granted a wish this year through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They were able to send a young girl and her family to Disney World.

DSC_1115_web.gifWhile some Winter Texans came to see the latest trailers, Sharon Eck, from Paradise South RV Park in Mercedes, said she and her husband, Dave, were looking to upgrade to a new fifth wheel. The couple was on their first visit to the Hoover center. This is the couple's second season in the Valley, and they were loving it.

The Ecks came in 2022 from Duluth, MN because of friends being here, “which is nice to have someone you know.” She’s found people to be open and easy to know. They enjoy the music opportunities with happy hours and concerts. They bike, but haven’t done much, except for a ride on South Padre Island. Sharon said she did the “polar plunge” at the Island, but only up to her ankles. This is the first season of venturing out more than just their park activities.

Steve Sellnow and wife, Connie Henry, were also first-time visitors to the open house. The couple staying at Paradise Park Inc. in McAllen came from St. Cloud, MN in 2019. Steve said he enjoyed winter activities up north like snowmobiling and ice fishing. He said they played pickleball in Minnesota and they are trying it out here. Connie said she enjoys the social activities. Steve said there is a lot of fellowship to be enjoyed along with card playing and Bible studies.

DSC_1103_web.gifDean and Kathy Mennen, from Medford, MN, and Dave and Pat Snyder, from Kearney, NEB, were neighbors at Trophy Gardens RV Resort in Alamo, which led to their friendship. This was the second year for the Mennens to come to the open house. They first came south in 2018, visiting some cousins in the Valley for a week and then two months the next year. They found the people friendly, Kathy said, and welcoming. They pretty much like everything, including the Santa Anna Wildlife Refuge.

The Snyders, who had been to the open house for the past three years, came to the Valley in 2015, renting a place for the first four years. They also met a lot of Nebraskans in their park. Dave said their interests included learning the history of the Valley, a little fishing, golfing, and that friendship.

Brian and Veanna Snodgrass were in the Valley for their first time at Bibleville Conference Grounds in Alamo but can only spend two months. They have to leave at the end of February because they have jobs at home in Branson, MO as ushers in the Sight and Sound 2,085-seat Theater. It is a major theater production they described with this coming season to feature the Bible’s Queen Esther on a 40 by 70-foot size stage with a height of three stories. They were somewhat familiar with the Valley because Brian at one time had grandparents in a park in La Feria. They also have friends at Bibleville they knew. Besides, Veanna added, “When it gets cold up north, it’s time to go (south).”

DSC_1105---Copy_web.gifThe huge open house included more than 50 vendors with a variety of products. Vendor fees all went to the South Texas Juvenile Diabetes Association, which conducts summer camps, partners with schools to provide educational programs about children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and provides bears to children in area hospitals. The event included musical entertainment for those sitting at tables enjoying lunch.

One of the sponsors, ArcaContinental, a Coke distributor, gave out prizes in the afternoon for those having unusual items with them, like a pocket watch or a photo of their pet not on a phone. Those who registered for the grand prizes each day received a T-shirt, which contained a new design this time from previous years.

It was obvious the open house remains a popular feature with Winter Texans, giving them a chance to do what they like best, enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company.