By Tony Ozark
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was submitted by a Winter Texan. We welcome your ideas and submissions. Many of our best stories and leads come from ideas and stories provided by you.
Each year from November to April, thousands of senior citizens, known as Winter Texans, travel to the Rio Grande Valley from all parts of Canada and the United States to enjoy the weather and activities at the multitude of senior resort and RV parks. Many of these resorts and parks feature weekly music jams providing the opportunity for musicians to display their talents providing entertainment to the residents and visitors.
Read more: Rock and Roll growing in the WT community
Whether you're a festival-seeker yearning for live music and new food to experience or a nature-lover craving lush scenery, spring break is an ideal time to plan an adventure in the great outdoors. Step outside into Quinta Mazatlán’s big backyard and unleash your inner explorer on a self-guided walk through the forest trails, or one of several special spring break holiday programs; culminating with Monarch Fest, Saturday, March 21.
Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, March 20, guests will have the opportunity to explore nature through games, nature walks and craft activities. Each day brings a new theme - from scavenger hunts, to art in nature; as well as morning and afternoon options to participate (11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.). The programming is open to all ages, and free with park admission.
Read more: Seven ways to unleash your inner explorer
The Open Invitational Pool Tournament for the Rio Grande Valley was recently held. It was hosted by Bentsen Grove Resort and was organized by Claude Lemay. This is the second year for the tournament. Pictured, from left to right, Ken VanSickle, representing Bentsen Grove Resort; third place finisher Len Bangma of Magic Valley in Donna; Winner Stew McCrae of Siesta Village in Weslaco; second place finisher Al Prescott of Eldorado Acres in Palmview; and Claude Lemay organizer.
By Herb Moering
About 90 local Winter Texans were treated to an evening of food, information and entertainment, with many winning prizes in a series of drawings at the Monaco Event Center in Alamo on Thursday, March 27.
The occasion was the Alamo Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center’s Winter Texan Appreciation Night, which is a popular event for Jim and Jean Zion to attend. This was about the fifth or sixth time the Zions had come to the event. This is their fifth year at Alamo Rec-Veh Park, but they have been coming to the Valley for 15 years from their home in Missouri.
Read more: Alamo shows appreciation to local Winter Texans
Bentsen Palm RV Park recently took on a project to help a pet shelter with something they really needed. The park got involved with Cinderella Pet Rescue about four years ago when they learned about the no-kill pet shelter. They learned about the shelter when trying to find somewhere to take stray dogs to – they had a number of stray dogs at the park that needed homes.
Marcie Swenson, activity director at the park, said residents were hooked in helping the shelter and fulfilling the needs of the shelter whenever they could.
Read more: Bentsen Palm builds dog houses
I remember my dad and my neighbor, Jim Brewer, used to go out back with some wooden stakes, drive one into the ground and then spend the next 15 minutes arguing over how far to place the other stake.
My dad was 6-foot-4 and Mr. Brewer, as I would call him, was probably 5-foot-9. They would mark off the stakes 13 strides apart. My dad, being tall and strong, would make sure his 13 strides were stretched out and Mr. Brewer, well, he didn't particularly care for that strategic move.
Read more: A leaner is worth two points – just not in Texas
It's been a pleasure for me to have visited with so many of you this Winter Texan Season. Your sense of humor, your kindness, your contributions to our communities has made me appreciate so much more all that you do for us.
And so, now the time has come when you are thinking of returning to your summer home up north. You will be with your family, your children and your grandchildren and oh, what a busy summer it will be. We will miss you. We hope you have a blessed summer and that you come back to be with us next year.
Read more: Summer, tours and change
By Herb Moering
An easy way to view attractions at Estero Llano Grande State Park is to climb aboard a tram and enjoy a two-hour trip narrated by a park interpreter.
For the March 4 tram trip, eight Winter Texans from Siesta Retirement Village, just down the road from the state park, learned a lot from volunteer guides Tom and Connie Unsicker. They noted that the 280-acre Estero Llano Grande on Weslaco’s south side, is among the youngest and smallest by state park standards. But the park features some of the most diverse habitat in the Valley with its different vegetation areas, animal and bird life.
Read more: Guided tram tour explores urban oasis
Hollywood has nothing on red carpet events compared to what Winter Texans receive as they return to the Valley with open arms awaiting them.
Special dances, potlucks and Winter Texan welcome back parties are just some of the things that await the part-time residents, who mean so much to the Valley, it's economy and everything from tourism to volunteering. While they are here for just a portion of the year, they have built relationships inside and outside of their parks and all throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
Read more: Winter Texans receive red carpet treatment in the RGV