Saturday, March 24, 2018
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Tom and Arlene Mathias took a break to enjoy some of the music behind them at the Fun Fair prior to the start of the parade.

A lot of Winter Texans love to go see a parade, including last Saturday’s Texas Citrus Fiesta Parade of Oranges in Mission. It looked as though half if not more of the spectators lining the route along Conway Avenue were visitors from up north.

One group of Winter Texans roaming the streets who paused at the Fun Fair area to have something to eat were from the Fun N Sun Resort in San Benito and Orange Grove RV Park in Edinburg. Tim and Marilyn Brunel, from Green Bay, WI, had come to the parade for the first time. However, Marilyn said her parents had come to the Valley years ago and had been to see the event.

The Brunels, who have come to the Valley and been at Fun N Sun since 2012, keep active. Tim likes fishing and goes to South Padre Island to fish in the beach surf, while Marilyn is into watercolor painting at their park.

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The parade was one of the last events for Bob and Pat Wanta, who had only booked a month in the RGV, but plan to come longer next winter.

Marilyn’s brother, Don and wife, Sheila, who were with them, had worked on the Orange Grove float that was in the parade. They have been Valley visitors for 17 years and Sheila said, “We’re loving every minute of it.” The Green Bay woman said she enjoys the parade and seeing a whole bunch of grapefruit and oranges. During their winter stay they enjoy lots of activities including line dancing. She’s also one of Ronald McDonald’s Chapter Angels who support Ronald McDonald House in Harlingen.

Jim and Patty Bagley, from Maryville, MO, consider themselves extended family with the Brunels at Fun N Sun. Jim goes fishing with the guys and Patty helps teach the watercolor class. The couple also likes to exercise and watch the remote-controlled car races at the park.

Tom and Arlene Mathias are also from Green Bay and met the Brunels at the Fun Fair for the first time. Saturday also marked the first time Tom had to put on sunscreen here. The couple who are in their second year at Bentsen Grove Resort in Palmview, have only been in the Valley two weeks and they have packed a lot into it, including ithe popular Senior Olympics playing cribbage and as partners they still have a pinochle tournament ahead of them in February. They also play pickleball at their park. Tom, an Elks Lodge member, gave high marks to the McAllen Lodge for its Friday fish fry, which is a tradition in Wisconsin. “A lot in two weeks and more to do in the next three months, Tom concluded.

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Larry and Korella Selzler skipped an afternoon flea market visit to attend the parade.

Sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the parade to start were Bob and Pat Wanta, of Bevent, Wis. The parade was one of the last events for the couple who only booked the month of January at Mission Bell/Trade Winds RV Resort in Mission. Because they liked being in the Valley they already booked a return stay, but for two months next season. Bob is a cash crop farmer and the trip here was the first winter of any long time away from the farm.

A Gold Wing trike motorcycle, brought with them in their fifth wheel toy hauler, is the way they were seeing places between Rio Grande City and South Padre Island. They also made a trip to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. While here the Wantas took line dancing and ballroom lessons, played cards and helped with the park’s parade float. “It’s been wonderful,” Pat commented on being in the RGV.

Another first-time couple to the parade were Larry and Korella Selzler, from Dilworth, Minn., which is across the river from Fargo, S.D. They have spent four winters in the Valley at Winter Green Park in Harlingen and he loves going to flea markets. In fact, last year he had to buy a trailer here so he could get everything back to Dilworth. His wife he related said, “that won’t happen again.” But Larry said she picks up things too.

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Jim and Shirley Johnson are regulars at the Mission parade, having missed it only last year.

They like playing cards and especially fishing, whether it’s up north in “the land of 10,000 lakes” or the waters around South Padre Island. When Korella returned from a stroll, she claimed she “catches all the big ones.” He says she gets to fish more because he has to drive the boat. Larry, who noted he has 40 rods at home so he doesn’t have to change any of the tackle, plans to get to the Island soon to go surf fishing.

Jim and Shirley Johnson, from the Brainard, Minn. area, are also plenty busy. Jim said, “We like lots of jams” and Shirley added “we like dancing.” They also like to hike at the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in the Alamo area. The couple staying at Lemon Tree RV Inn in Mission agree that they can’t pass up a rummage or park sale. And they like eating out, which is almost all the time, they admitted. Shirley said, “There is lots of good food and it’s reasonably priced.”

They have been in the RGV for five years and only missed the Mission parade last year. “I like to see how the floats are decorated,” Shirley said.

“Get our feet wet in the Gulf and pick up seashells is an activity we like,” Jim said. They also enjoy seeing many of the entertainers, which has included a couple from their area back home.

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A Nebraska trio waited with friends for the parade to begin. They included (from left) Rose Marie Helgoth, and John and Sharon Bitter.

A Nebraska trio were part of a larger group on hand to see the parade. John and Sharon Bitter are in their 19th year of coming here from their home in Tekamah, Neb. They usually attend four parades in the Valley, each season. “I want to get out of the snow,” Sharon said as the main reason in coming to stay at Orange Grove RV Park in Edinburg.

Another long-time Winter Texan is Rose Marie Helgoth, from St. Libory, Nev., who has been here 22 years. Her reason for coming now, she said is “to be with friends” since she lost her husband a few years ago. She has been to the parade a few times, and at the park she enjoys bingo and any event that includes a little food. She recalled once being a part of a lawn chair drill team for a couple of years.

Fortunately, for the Winter Texans and native Texans alike, they were able to enjoy the Mission event as “it didn’t rain on their parade. ”

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