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McAllen Parade provided entertainment, stars, and music

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By Herb Moering

The pre-McAllen parade entertainment at Veterans Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 7, provided a taste of “Valley” musical traditions topped by the appearance of internationally known actor and singer Mane de la Parra.

He was accompanied by a couple hundred fourth and fifth grade students from all the McAllen elementary schools. The music students performed three numbers, two of them with de la Parra. Fourth graders Melanie Navarrete and Alyssa Vazquez, from Fields Elementary School, were excited to have a part in the early evening’s entertainment before several thousand spectators. Navarrete and Vazquez sported Santa hats provided to the students by Reliant Energy as part of the performance.

Opening the program on the field was a McAllen High School Fine Arts ensemble doing a song “Circle of Light,” which featured Alexa Ramirez. The song is from the Lion King Jr. production, which will be presented in mid-January by the students.

They were followed by a quintet from the Valley Symphony Orchestra, playing familiar Christmas songs. The full orchestra has already presented a couple concerts with future dates Feb. 28 and March 27.

A small group of UTRGV music students provided a taste of the popular TubaChristmas, one of the nation’s largest concert performances that was scheduled the next day at the McAllen Convention Center.20191218 dsc 0274 mcallen

And then it was parade time for the largest illuminated and helium balloon spectacle in all of Texas. It included 15 animated floats, 14 marching bands and 39-character balloons.

And among those most interested was Viva Selena Lopez, of McAllen, along with her mother, Mary Jane Lopez. The 24-year-old Viva Selena, who has been quite active in the community, was decked out in a Dallas Cowboys outfit of Number 4 Dak Prescott, the same of type shirt her mother was wearing. They are big Cowboys fans and Viva Selena has attracted the attention of some of the football players. A get-together two years ago went viral on the internet. Her mother said her daughter also is big on the Rio Grande Vipers basketball team, which has taken some interest in the special needs young woman.

Mayor Jim Darling addressed the crowd aboard a butterfly float accompanied by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith. Other Cowboys riding floats included wide receiver Michael Gallup, defensive tackle Meliek Collins, safety Kavon Frazier, cornerback Byron Jones and retired stars Charles Haley and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. That was in addition to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and team mascot “Rowdy.”

UTRGV President Guy Bailey was given the honor of being the grand marshal for the one and half-mile long parade. Fighter Brandon Figueroa was another celebrity in the parade, plus television and radio personalities, government officials and the Budweiser Clydesdales along with the company’s spotted Dalmatian riding the wagon. One of the festival floats came from the City of San Antonio and there was also a South Korean marching contingent.

And of course, winding up the parade was the jolly old fellow himself, Santa Claus, with Mrs. Claus, riding in the sleigh pulled by the Rudolph-led reindeer.

In keeping with the city’s weekend of celebrating Christmas that Gov. Greg Abbott officially designated McAllen the “South Pole of Texas,” periodic blasts of simulated snow rose into the air as the parade moved around the stadium. But this “snow” fell under ideal climate conditions of pleasant temperatures and a light breeze, perfect for the balloon characters.

The parade and entertainment is part of McAllen’s 40 Days of Christmas celebration. Many of the families coming for the parade also went to nearby Christmas in the Park event, which ran for two days featuring two stages of live entertainment, interactive games, carnival rides, festival food and Santa on hand for pictures. The city’s events also include the Winter Wonderland at the McAllen Convention Center, which continues on various dates through December.

How a murder gave Edinburg its name

20191211 ed murderHave you ever visited a little town named Chapin, Texas? If you have ever visited the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg, then you have stepped into the former townsite of Chapin.

Joseph Fox, the associate education officer for MOSTHistory, will present “The Trial of Dennis Chapin: How a Murder Gave Edinburg Its Name,” a Sunday Speaker Series presentation, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m.

The city of Edinburg, founded in 1908, was originally called Chapin after the city’s founder, Dennis Bangs Chapin. He was also a former Hidalgo County Judge and a land developer within the townsite of Chapin. However, the town changed forever after Chapin shot a man named Oscar J. Rountree in a gunfight in a San Antonio saloon. Immediately following the gunfight, he was arrested and accused of murder—news that reached the citizens of Chapin. Hear more about the incident and the trial that followed during the Sunday Speaker Series presentation.

Fox earned a master’s degree in history from Texas State University in San Marcos where he completed a thesis on Lone Star beer and the 1970s Austin music scene. He has written articles for the Handbook of Tejano History, book reviews for Texas Books in Review, a historical marker for the Texas Historical Commission, and is currently conducting further research on Lone Star beer to expand his master’s thesis into a book.

Sunday Speaker Series is included in the fee for regular museum admission. FRIENDS of MOSTHistory are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship and must present their FRIENDship card at the Admissions Desk.

This program is made possible with generous support from the Carmen C. Guerra Endowment. Mrs. Guerra was deeply committed to supporting educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley. This named endowment was created at the museum by her family to honor her memory and to continue her commitment to providing opportunities for education to the community.

The Museum is located downtown Edinburg at 200 North Closner Boulevard on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit, like us on Facebook and Instagram, follow on Twitter, find on YouTube or call +1-956-383-6911.

RGVLS holds citrus and vegetable show

20191211 rgvls 01The Rio Grande Valley Livestock Showgrounds will host a free event this weekend, December 13 and 14. They will be hosting the Citrus and Vegetable Show that will be showcasing fruits and vegetables from growers throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Children involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) have worked with local growers in the Valley and are given an opportunity to learn about the agricultural product, grow and harvest their own product. Here, they will be showcasing some of those vegetables and citrus.

The children will clean, prepare and display their picks from the fields for judging. Categories range from best grapefruit to largest head of cabbage.

Kids will also participate in a poster contest where contestants will create their own tri-fold posters promoting local agriculture. There is also a basket contest where the fruits and vegetables harvested are displayed and judged for overall presentation.

Probably the most intense competition, is the Agriculture Product Identification. The event will test the kids on their knowledge of different varieties of fruit and vegetables.

Last, but not least, is the food challenge. The best way to describe this is “Chopped” for kids. The reams, or individuals, are given an ingredient – fruit or vegetable – and the item must be transformed into an entrée or dessert. This is by far the most fun part of the event to watch.

On Saturday, the event will feature a speaker from the USDA talking about healthy living and featuring the RGVLS General Manager, Mando Correa, as the guest chef.

The public events will be on Saturday, December 14, starting at 8 a.m. A schedule of events can be found online at The RGVLS is located at 100 N. Texas Ave., in Mercedes.

Austin folk singer performing in McAllen

20191211 tish hinojosaLegendary musician, Tish Hinojosa will be performing live in McAllen, Texas on Thursday, December 12th from 6 to 7 p.m. at Quinta Mazatlán for a Holiday Concert in the Park. Tish dazzles with her one-of-a-kind blend of Folk, Country, Latino, Pop; and will be accompanied by her longtime musicians Marvin Dykhuis on guitar and mandolin and by Chip Dolan on piano and accordion.

Tish has been a featured artist on Austin City Limits, performed at the White House, and teamed up with artists such as Joan Baez, Booker T. Jones, Flaco Jimenez, Pete Seeger, and Dwight Yoakam. She has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe and continues to draw a loyal and growing audience.

For her Holiday Concert in the Park at Quinta Mazatlan, Tish will be performing songs from her Christmas CD "From Texas For A Christmas Night.” These songs cover themes from lively Western Swing to Tex-Mex storytelling and Christmas standards. She will also sing hits from the seventeen albums she has produced since 1987.

Tickets for the Holiday Concert in the Park are $5 per person at the gate. Quinta Mazatlán is located at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall on 10th Street. For more information, contact Quinta Mazatlan at (956) 681-3370 or visit or the Facebook events page

La Feria Methodist to host live Nativity

20191211 la feria nativity 01First United Methodist Church of La Feria will host its Live Nativity on Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. At the Live Nativity, the church parking lot transforms into the town of Bethlehem. Visitors can either drive or walk through the village and see the original Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Live Nativity will feature Joseph and Mary as well as a full cast of townspeople, angels, wise men, kings, soldiers, shepherds and live animals. The event will also include live and recorded music. The Live Nativity is free and open to the public.

FUMC-La Feria is located at 331 S. Main St. in La Feria, next to Tiny Town Park. For more information on the Live Nativity or to volunteer, call (956) 245-5742.

Grapefruit pie showdown, costumes, and shoeboxes

20191211 pie costumes 01Do you bake the best grapefruit pie? Well here is your chance to show that talent. The Texas Classroom Teachers Association is sponsoring a Texas Citrus Fiesta Grapefruit Pie and Citrus Baking Showdown this weekend, Saturday, December 14 from 9 to 11 a.m.

The pie contest is open to anyone who would like to participate. Two pies must be submitted, one for judging and one for display. The pies will be judged on overall appearance, overall flavor and use of grapefruit. The decision of the judges is final. First place will receive a trophy and medal; second and third places will receive medals.

Bring your pie or dessert entries to Krysta’s Event Center at 1706 E. Griffin Parkway in Mission. You can contact Nydia Alonzo at for an entry form and guidelines. Entry fee is $10. Registration can also be found on Tcta Mission Cta Facebook page.

Winners will be announced at the Texas Citrus Fiesta Product Costume Show that follows at 1 p.m. Contestants are allowed to attend the show free but other guests must pay to get in the show. Admission is $5 per person.

The Product Costume Show will feature participants dressed in outfits that are made from agricultural products grown in the Rio Grande Valley. Costumes are usually tailored to fit the theme of the parade, which this year is Space Odyssey Adventure.

All costumes must have at least 10 percent citrus, but also a variety of other products that are native to the Valley can be used. Products such as onion skin, which is often used for lace, bougainvillea leaves, for pink colors, banana leaves, palm leaves and a host of other products are used.

It takes many hours to make these costumes. The products that have been dehydrated, ground and otherwise prepared are glued to base costumes made of a material with a knap. Each year the designers get more creative and some of the costumes are simply fantastic.

The event will also feature the Shoebox Float Contest. The Shoeboxes are miniature floats created by fourth and fifth graders from local schools. They have been decorated in some of the same manners as the costumes have been using local agricultural products or items found in their own backyards.

The events start at 9 a.m. with the Grapefruit contest with the other events following. They will be held at Krysta’s Events Center.

MHM hosts December lecture series

20191211 mhm 02Join Mission Historical Museum for their lecture series on December 14 at 11 a.m. The lecture will be presented by Dr. Jamie M. Starling on “French Texas? La Salle’s Colony and its Legacy.” Sweets and light refreshments will be served.

Texas is famous for its “six flags,” those of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States, and the United States. Of the six, the impact of France is perhaps the least apparent in Texas today.

At first glance, the initial French colonial effort led by Sieur de la Salle was decidedly unsuccessful. Of the two hundred French settlers who arrived on the Gulf Coast in 1684, only about fifteen survived by 1690. However, La Salle’s colony was a decisive turning point in Texas history. French claims and interests in Texas had a strong impact on the Rio Grande Valley through the nineteenth century, and impacted the founding of Mission itself, as French priests maintained an interest in this region for centuries after the brief existence of La Salle’s colony.

Dr. Jamie Starling is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He has published five scholarly articles on the history of the Texas borderlands during the Spanish colonial and early independence periods and offers classes on Texas and Borderlands history. He is currently preparing a book on the history of Padre Island.

The Mission Historical Museum is located at 900 Doherty Avenue and are open Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information on this program or any upcoming events contact the museum office at 956-580-8646, visit us at, or follow us on Facebook.

Madonna exhibit at Alamo Museum

20191211 madonna alamoBy Herb Moering

During the Christmas season the City of Alamo Museum is presenting an exhibit of Madonna and Child and Madonnas, which includes a new foreign figurine.

The collection is on permanent loan from Audry Stewart, a Winter Texan from Woodland, Oklahoma. This year she is adding a Madonna and Child figure that she acquired while visiting the Netherlands. Many of the figurines in the collection came from a visit to China. Others come from Japan, Italy, Germany, Poland and Mexico.

“The opening of the exhibit fits well in this time of the year as many celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus,” according to museum Curator Alejandro Oyoque. “This is a season where love reigns as is the example of the love shown between the Virgin Mary and Jesus.”

The part-time Alamo resident acquired the figurines over more than 45 years.

Stewart said she finds the Madonnas “a significant spiritual experience.” To her “they represent so much more than just an object.”

The exhibit will be on display until April 15 next year, which will include the Easter season. The collection compliments the Angel Galleria with its 1,800 angel figures at the museum, which is on permanent display.

Museum hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday. The museum is located at 130 South Eighth Street in Alamo. For more information call 956-961-4398.

For more information you may contact Curator Alejandro Oyoque at (956) 961-4398.

You may also contact Herb Moering, Friends of the Museum secretary, at (815) 382-1154 for additional information or at his email

International Festival – a seasonal tradition in the Valley

20191211 international fest 02Every Saturday since September, parishioners and friends of St. George Orthodox Church in Pharr have been cooking up vast quantities of handmade baklava and other international food delicacies, preparing for this year’s International Festival.

Held on the second Saturday of December each year, the International Festival is a much-anticipated holiday event for the local community, families with children and Winter Texans alike. This year’s Festival will be on Saturday, December 14, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at St. George Orthodox Church, 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr. It features the sale of a variety of homestyle foods and beverages from around the world, including Greece and Eastern Europe, as well as vendors selling fine handcrafted gifts, handmade soap, local honey, preserves, pickles and more.

With free entry, parking, activities and a wide variety of music and dance performances, there’s always something for everyone to see and do. The festival is a fun, educational event for the entire family. Activities and information will be shared by the Museum of South Texas History, the McAllen Public Library, South Texas Border Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, Deep South Texas Master Gardeners, UTRGV CHAPS, Milkweed and Monarchs and more. While you shop, purchase some native host and nectar plants to attract butterflies to your yard.

Our favorite RGV Bluegrass music returns to this year’s festival. The day’s entertainment includes holiday favorites from the wonderful UTRGV Tuba and Euphonium Quartet as well as the much-beloved Edinburg Folklorica dancers and the Mariachi Nueva Tradicion. Returning to the festival stage will be the talented colibrí children’s choir. The last performance of the day will be the South Texas Indian Dancers, led by Robert Soto. The entire, exciting entertainment and activity schedule can be found at international fest 01

The Festival is a great place for holiday shopping. Pick up some unique items created by local artisans, handicraft and farmers market vendors. Everything from local honey and preserves, bags of specialty coffee from Mexico, to handmade soap, beeswax candles, Eastern European folkart and handcrafted wood items will be available.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of St. George Orthodox Church and learn about the lovely icons, an ancient liturgical artform. Children can decorate homemade gingerbread cookies, create holiday crafts, go “fishing” and also learn about local history and culture.

Whether you like fire-grilled skewers of Greek souvlaki, delectable pastitcio, savory spanakopita or stuffed grape leaves, or if you prefer Eastern European piroghies, blini or cabbage rolls, there is sure to be something you’ll love to eat. A limited supply of vegan and vegetarian options are available for many of these foods. A large tent-covered area with tables and chairs provide a comfortable area for dining. Frozen versions of many international specialties are also available – for you to take home and enjoy later. Bring a cooler along in the car.

Besides baklava, baked goods from around the world will make your mouth water. These make great holiday and party gifts. International soups – both vegan and with meat – are one of the festival favorites. Some people even take soups home to enjoy another day. Try soup with a warm German-style bierock on the side.

Want to just sit a while and watch the performances? Pick up some Russian tea, Greek coffee and some straddle, baklava or other special baked goods from the Russian Tea Shoppe and you’ll be ready to visit with friends, relax and enjoy. Freshly baked scones and muffins start out the morning, so come early – spend the day!

Another reason for the festival is a food and fundraiser for the very active St. George Food Pantry, which serves over 115 families. Bring monetary donations, canned goods, non-perishables, new or lightly used blankets, coats or children’s clothing and receive a homemade cookie as a “thank you” at this annual “Give a Can; Get a Cookie” campaign.

Not able to come on festival day, or just want to pre-purchase frozen items so you can just enjoy festival day without having to keep food frozen? Call (956) 358-8875 to make arrangements to come “shop” before the event at a time when people are working at the church.

To learn more about the festival, see their website at: or on Facebook at

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