There is something for everyone in the Rio Grande Valley so you should never be bored. Do you like to quilt? Then how about a visit to the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum located at 2425 Boxwood St. There is no entry fee, but donations are appreciated. Or better yet, why not visit the museum and be inspired to join in a mosaic art glass that will teach one how to make Turkish lamps. The class will be taught by Marco Antonio Martinez, an artist from Matamoros, Mexico. On display now at the museum is a beautiful mosaic and tile sphere that was created by Mr. Martinez. The sphere and a nearby bench are covered with flowers and plants native to our local area. Call the museum at (956) 216-490l for more information regarding the classes to be offered.
Or maybe you like something a little more exhilarating. If so, then what could be better than the Street Dance in Brownsville, sponsored by the Charro Association. The Street Dance, scheduled for February 22 at 455 E. Elizabeth, and lasting from 2-8 p.m. is the kickoff to Charro Days. Featured will be food, live music and folkloric dance. There is no entry fee. If you really want to join in the spirit of things, dress in your best Mexican attire - the more authentic, the better.
Charro Days in Brownsville is a wonderful celebration of the friendship and cross river connections that exist between Brownsville and Matamoros, their Sister City. Charro Days Fiesta doesn't just last one day and not everything is free. You might say that the Fiesta compares somewhat to the Carnivals celebrated in New Orleans, Galveston or in Mazatlan, Mexico. Not to be outdone, Charro Days also goes on for quite a few days with multiple parades both daytime and nighttime.
There is a Children's Parade scheduled for Feb. 27; an Illuminated Parade on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.; and on Saturday, Feb. 29 a Color Guard Parade at 12:30 p.m. and the Grand International Parade at 1 p.m. The parades are always very colorful with costumed dancers, marching bands and decorated cars and floats. All the parades travel down Elizabeth Street - the main street of Brownsville - and through the downtown historic district.
On Sunday, Feb. 23, there is a presentation of “A Little Bit of Mexico” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with an entry fee of $20 per person. It must really be a treat to attend the Costume Ball which will be held in the Jacob Brown Auditorium on Feb. 29. Can you imagine that huge ballroom filled with couples dressed in the elaborate and colorful regional costumes of Mexico? What a beautiful site it must be to see the ladies in the brightly embroidered Chiapaneca dresses or the colorful tiered skirts from Guadalajara. The men will look more handsome than ever in their silver studded charro suits or in their elegant fine cotton guayavera shirts. Music will be by Noe Pro and there is an entrance fee of $30.
The Charro Day fiesta is probably the longest fiesta in existence in the Rio Grande Valley. It was in 1937, at the height of the Great Depression, when business leaders in Brownsville met to discuss what might be done to lighten the spirits of the people of their community. A year later, in February 1938, the first Charro Days Fiesta was celebrated honoring the charros, the gentlemen cowboys of the Mexican culture. The two cities - Brownsville and Matamoros - have since joined together to celebrate their friendship and community spirit. In years past the border was open for free movement so that friends and family could join together in the celebration. Today, the mayors of both cities meet in the middle of Gateway Bridge to inaugurate the festivities.
Hats off to Brownsville, Matamoros and the Charro Days Committee who have worked to maintain the celebration, the friendship and the mutual respect that exists between the two cities.