Have you ever stopped to consider, what would happen in the RGV if the Rio Grande (river) dried up? Would it be a catastrophe? Would we be a thirsty region?
“In reality most people take the river for granted when it comes to acknowledging it’s most important resource,” says Pharr Community Theater Artistic Director Pedro Garcia.
“I happen to be a large fan of el Rio Grande and it’s nearly 1,900 miles of trajectory starting in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, running south through the entire length of New Mexico, down to El Paso, where it bends southeastward on its way to the Gulf of Mexico via Boca Chica in Brownsville. In our play the river has a lead role, so to speak.”
A Tejano Christmas Carol is a comedic and dramatic play where Mr. Ezequiel Codos (a scrooge equivalent) is a powerful, avarice RGV attorney and water broker. For some time now Mr. Codos has been brewing up plans to sell large amounts of water rights from his vast property along both sides of the river.
“This deal is gonna make me a multi-millionaire”, he says to his nephew and water rights activist, Beto, played by Danilo Zepeda, from Edinburg, who invites him to Christmas dinner in spite of his rudeness.
Of course, many of us know the Charles Dickens story from which the play is adapted including visits by ghosts. In this tale the ghost of Christmas past is La Rielera de la Revolución Mexicana played by veteran stage actress, Armandina Sesin, from Mission.
“I’ve performed the role of La Rielera for the last four years and I always have a good time as my character tries to instill some good sense into the tight-fisted Mr. Codos.”
Even the late, great conductor/composer Laurence Welk makes a youthful appearance as a ghost played by 16-year-old Frankie Sharp Hooton from Weslaco.
“He’s a popularized 1950’s-1970’s TV entertainer, he performed lots of music and interviews but mostly he was a big band conductor, an orchestra person. From the research I did, he seemed like a fun guy although a mono-tonal person which I’m not, but I had to learn how to dial it down while racking it up at the same time. For me it’s a difficult role to play but ultimately the part is doable with practice and a whole lot of fun.”
The two-act family play, in English, is set in 2007 when the RGV had a big snowfall on Christmas eve. The play returns to Pharr by popular demand with a local cast of nearly 20 adults and children combined and is directed by Seres Jaime Magaña. Claudia Jimenez is stage manager and longtime Screen Actor Guild member Pedro Garcia, co-produces and plays Codos for the 4th year in a row.
“Next time I’ll be glad to give up the fun role to someone else and see another local actor take a turn at it,” said Garcia with a chuckle.
“It’s a family play for the holiday with a grand message and something fun to watch for this season, plus we have a versatile, creative and disciplined cast,” added director Magaña.
A Tejano Christmas Carol plays December 4-8, at Pharr Community Theater, 213 W. Newcombe Ave., Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are only $5 students, seniors and military or $8 general admission. Seating is limited to 55 persons per show and tickets will be sold at the door starting one hour before curtain upon availability. You may also reserve your advance tickets by texting or calling (956) 239-0412 or (956) 655-9308
A final show will be held on Thursday, December 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the spacious Pharr Events Center at 3000 N Cage Blvd. Tickets will remain the same price.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV Center for Latin American Arts will present an evening with the Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad Veracruzana, 7 p.m. December 7 in the Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus and Dec. 8 at the TSC Performing Arts Center in Brownsville.
The world-renowned ballet folklórico will present its show, “Raices de mi pueblo,” a performance that honors Mexico’s beautiful cultural traditions through dance and music.
Dr. Steven Block, dean of the College of Fine Arts; Dr. Katherine Moore McAllen, director of the center; and Miguel Peña, director of the UTRGV Ballet Folklórico program, have invited the celebrated ballet folklórico dance company from Veracruz, Mexico, to present performances at UTRGV.
Guest performers will offer two shows open to the public and will team with UTRGV university students and dance professors to host ballet folklórico dance clinics for students at various public schools throughout the Valley.
The clinics will be held at different studios in several high schools, including PSJA Southwest, La Joya High School, Dancentre of Edinburg, Edinburg North, Economedes, Hidalgo Early College, Edinburg, Valley View High School, PSJA North Early College, Juarez Lincoln, and PSJA Memorial.
The dance company also will give three large clinics at the UTRGV dance studios at both campuses.
The Center for Latin American Arts hopes this event will engage the community and create a greater awareness and appreciation for Mexican culture and traditions. All proceeds from the ticket sales support future programming projects at the Center and enable the CLAA to fund faculty and student research initiatives and provide salaries of graduate student staff members.
Tickets, available at http://patron.utrgv.edu/CLAA, are $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors.
Event contacts are McAllen at CLLA@utrgv.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org and Peña at email@example.com.
For more information, visit https://www.utrgv.edu/claa, https://www.facebook.com/UTRGVCLAA or https://www.utrgv.edu/cofa
Let the VMHS Harlequins take you back in time with their production featuring music from some of the best 1980's musical groups.
Come out and Rock with the VMHS Harlequins as they present the Broadway Rock and Roll spectacular Rock of Ages! With music from Journey, Foreigner, Guns and Roses and more, this is a show that you don't want to miss.
Performances will be held at the VMHS Performing Arts Center on December 5 through 7 at 7p.m. Tickets will be available for purchase at the VMHS Front Office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. beginning on Monday, December 2. Tickets can also be purchased when doors open at 6:30 p.m. on show nights. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Thanksgiving is here. It's a special time when all of us can give thanks for our lives and the many blessings that we have received. Then it is Christmas – a wonderful time of year when families get together and share the excitement of opening gifts among family and friends. And before we know it, it is December 31, New Year's Eve, and time for us to look back over the past year at what we have done and what we failed to do. Most of all, we need to look forward to what we will do in the coming new year.
The new year, 2020, is truly upon us! As we meditate on our blessings, perhaps we should examine how we have shared those blessings with others. Perhaps we are using the excuse that we have so little to share, it wouldn't make a difference. Not true! Over time, a little at a time can add up to a whole, whole lot!
For example, let's look at what a difference the Minten Sisters have made with their gifts to Driscoll Children's Hospital. The three sisters, Dorothy, Esther, and Janie, have made a huge difference with their sharing during the past years. In 1976, they had decorated their entire home with their collection of Christmas memorabilia kept from their childhoods and into their adult years. To all of these they had added many new decorations. They had a couple of parties and an open house that year for family and friends. The next year, they had the parties but needed to have two open houses to accommodate all the family and friends who wanted to see all the different things they had collected during the past year.
By 1981, they were having six open houses plus several other parties with over 600 people attending. Before sending out the invitations for the 1982 events, the three sisters and their parents (now deceased) decided to make these parties count for something. It was decided that the family would give $2 for every guest that attended that Christmas. By 1986, so many people had heard about their Christmas decorations and the imaginative, creative way in which they displayed them in their ranch home, that they were prompted to open their home for public tours by reservation only. (Do not just drive up to their home unannounced! You must have reservations or be part of a pre-arranged tour.)
Their home became known as The Christmas House, and next door in the farmhouse, their grandfather had built in 1926, they opened a year 'round Christmas store called Santa's Texas Workshop. Now, the sisters (Dorothy aged 92, Esther, 88, and Janie, 75) are currently in their 34th year of having their home open to the public. They are still raising money for Driscoll Children's Hospital.
How have they done this? There are several ways--$1 from each modest entrance fee charged to paying guests; $2 for each non-paying guest (family, close friends, paying guests who return for subsequent tours during the same season). The sisters share the latter by adding their 1/3 to their own personal donations which they give annually.
Then there is the ORGAN FUND. In 1993, a guest from McAllen jokingly gave Dorothy a nickel "tip" for playing the antique pump organ. Dorothy didn't want her to do that, so she told the lady that she would make sure that the nickel would be given to Driscoll at the end of the season. Other guests left money on the organ during the remainder of the season, so it became a separate way to raise money. Since then, every year, guests at the first tour of each season have started the Organ Fund, and tour guests have perpetuated it to the tune of a grand total of $91,590.46. Every penny of that Organ Fund goes to Driscoll Children's Hospital to help children in South Texas who have heart problems. It is part of the grand total, $360,025, raised since 1982. It is proof that everyone makes a difference.
According to Janie Minten, some of their most generous guests who contribute to the Organ Fund are the students from La Gloria School, a small elementary school founded in 1909 to serve the educational needs of the rural ranching/farming community. (The Minten Sisters grandfather was one of the three founders). Five generations of Minten family descendants have attended that school, and Dorothy and Esther came back after college and each taught there for over 30 years each!
Every year, the sisters invite the school to bring each of their classes (pre-k through 6th grade) to tour the Christmas House. All of those children are admitted free, but they love to bring donations to put on the organ. They also love to shop the after Christmas ½-price sale after their tour of the house. When paying, if they have change coming, most of them say, "Just keep the change, I want to help the children who are sick!" That money is always added to the Organ Fund!
So, what started in 1982, as a small donation from the Minten Family has now become a sizeable amount contributed to by thousands of people during the years. What started as a nickel donation on the organ has contributed a grand total that is now getting close to $400,000.00. None of us have so little that we cannot share what little we have. We, too, can make a difference!
Over time, even a nickel multiplies and continues to multiply. Let us all share our talents and our blessings and remember what Charles Dickens said through the character of Scrooge, "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year!"
Standing tall in downtown Weslaco is a 100-foot-tall water tower, El Tinaco. Completed in 1941, it was a marvel of modern construction. The tower, standing on six concrete pillars, is crowned in gemstone lights, showing the pride of Weslaco. In 1982, the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker on the tower, a testament of the heart of the community, says Mayor David Suarez. As tall as the tower stands, Weslaco is now prepared to celebrate their centennial on December 10 with events planned the entire week preceding the birthday.
A Little History
The history of the city goes back to 1790, to the original land grant owner Juan Jose Ynojosa de Balli. At his death, the land was divided between his children. The land that is now Weslaco went to his daughters Manuela and Maria. The family maintained and ranched the land until 1852. By 1904, the railway was extending to the area. Most of the land was purchased by the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company by 1913.
The irrigation company sold 30,000 acres at $90 an acre to the W.E. Stewart Land Company on December 14, 1917. Here is where the name WESLaCo derived. The town site was then sold to Ed C. Couch, Dan R. Couch, R.C. Couch and R.L. Reeves. Two of the men backed out of the venture before it was platted on September 18, 1919. Nearby communities actually circulated flyers discouraging settlement at the proposed town. The sale of lots was held on December 10, 1919.
How was the land sold? Prices ranged from $50 to $400 per lot. If you were interested in a lot, all you had to do was camp out on it until the day of sale. Church groups received free lots. During the sale, three cars were also given away.
And so, the City of Weslaco began. Today, Weslaco is a city with a population with its own government, police and fire department, parks, schools and commercial endeavors. It is a city of diverse people and strong service, charitable and civic organizations.
Now the city is inviting the Valley to help them celebrate their 100 years.
The city has a huge lineup of events planned from December 4-10. The events include a Pioneer Families Exhibit at the museum, guided tours, entertainment, a BBQ cook off, and so much more. Christmas events will also be held during the week including their tree lighting ceremony on December 4 at Weslaco City Hall at 7 p.m.; Carolers and a book reading by Mrs. Clauson
Saturday, December 7 and 8, 12 to 4 p.m., at the Weslaco Museum; a Christmas Carol Sing-Along on Sunday; and a Christmas Tree Forest at the Performing Arts Center on December 9 and 10.
Entertainment at the event features Ruthi, Jeff Gordon, Legendzz Band and Chris Marshall.
Jeff Gordon is a charismatic entertainer who captivates audiences with his vocal ability singing rock n’ roll and country spanning from 1950-1980. He is also known for his Tom Jones and Elvis impersonation shows. He will be performing on Saturday, December 7, from 2 to 5 p.m.
Ruthi is an award-winning singer/songwriter who has been well known to the Valley for over 10 years. Ruthi’s Rock-n-Country offers upbeat country and rock, killer slow songs and blues. She performs from 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 7.
Legendzz Band is one of the hottest variety bands in the Rio Grande Valley. The play a wide array of hits from the most popular genres of music. They perform from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 8.
Chris Marshall has lit up stages and studios since 2002 with his signature guitar-work, lyrics, and vocals. He performs classic country and rock. He performs on Sunday, December 8 from 4-6 p.m.
Also, on the entertainment lineup is Frankie Jr. y Grupo Caballero, who will bring their own version and spin on the style of Tejano and Conjunto. They perform 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, December 8.
SA Lights, a touring classic rock tribute act with a light show, will feature three tribute performances to Journey, The Eagles and Mana. They will also cover all genres of classic rock, Spanish rock and country rock. The band has opened for every headliner of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo since 2013. The perform on Saturday, December 7, from 8 to 11 p.m.
Other entertainment will include a Street Dance Through the Years; poetry readings, a fashion show, documentary films, lectures, mariachis, and magician Oscar Munoz.
A Weslaco Centennial Christmas Parade will be held on Texas Blvd. from Pike to 6th St. on December 7 at 10 a.m. The parade will feature highlights of Weslaco’s 100 years. Ce
lebrate Weslaco through the decades while watching the parade. Register with the chamber to participate.
Weslaco will also hold a costume parade on December 8 at 4 p.m. The parade will be held near the downtown fire station. A revived tradition, fun-loving families and individuals with people-friendly pets dressed in family-friendly costumes can join the walking parade. Pets are not required. Prizes will be awarded. Refer to the website for entry forms.
The weekend will feature an IBCA BBQ Cook Off on December 7 and 8. It will be held in downtown Weslaco at Kansas and Bus. 83. The cook off will be all about chicken, ribs and brisket. There will also be beans, fajitas and pan de campo.
For a full schedule of events and full details of dates and times, visit weslaco100.org.For more information on the cook off, and how to enter, call or text (956) 650-2842, or email Weslaco100@gmail.com. Entry forms can be found online at Weslaco.org.
Festival of Lights opens December 1
The Hidalgo Festival of Lights has become a regular Christmas season must see. With the lighting of the tree, millions of Christmas lights, illuminated nighttime parade, trolley tours, dinner and entertainment, there is plenty to do and see for everyone. The festival officially begins with the lighting of the tree on Sunday, December 1 at 7 p.m. in the front of the Hidalgo City Hall, 704 E. Ramon Ayala Drive.
This year’s theme, announced earlier this month, is Winterland. The festivities will feature Anna and Elsa and other characters from the movie Frozen.
One of the main attractions, and part of their kickoff, is the illuminated nighttime parade. The parade welcomes its visitors with a colorful and Winterland themed parade in from of the City Hall at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 6. The parade will bring spectacular performances with illuminated floats, marching bands, performers from across the Valley, and of course, Santa. After the parade, visitors will be enjoy entertainment, food, photos with Santa and more.
The trolley tours, a favorite among visitors, begin on Sunday, December 1 and continue through December 30, from 6 to 10 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to tour the three miles of over 500 illuminated displays and over five million lights for $5. The tour also has a narrated guide with holiday music.
Every evening during the festival, except December 24 and 25, the carnival court will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. Visitors can enjoy carnival rides and delicious carnival food at City Hall Plaza.
Santa’s House will be open from December 1 through 23. Santa will be in town receiving children, and adults, for laughs and pictures. He will be at the City Hall Plaza from 6 to 10 p.m.
The Hidalgo Posada with Ramon Ayala is a long-standing tradition that the Rio Grande Valley looks forward to every year. The “King of the Accordion” and Latin Grammy Award Winner, Ramon Ayala, with the City of Hidalgo, hosts a free concert on Wednesday, December 18 at 5 p.m. The event has garnered over 50 thousand in attendance. The posada begins at 5 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The event also celebrates the over 10,000 toys that have been donated by local businesses. The toys will go to low-income children in the area.
Another event you don’t want to miss, the Holiday Artisan Market where visitors can find beautiful, unique products made by local businesses and residents. The market will be at the City Hall Plaza from 6 to 10 p.m., December 1-30.
Sponsors this year include Coca-Cola and HEB. The sponsors will be holding their own special events during the month. Every Monday in December you can meet and take a picture with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear for free. HEB will have lots of surprises for attendees at City Hall Plaza Saturday, December 21, 6 to 10 p.m.
HEB will also have their Super Glide Synthetic Ice Rink available for guests from December 11-23, 6 to 10 p.m.
On December 5-8 and December 11-17, Hidalgo Festival of Lights will offer Dinner and Entertainment packages. The packages are $13 per person. Depending on the day, meals include sautéed chicken breast, Salisbury steak or roast beef entrees. The package also includes VIP seating for the community performance and the narrated train light tour. Dinner times are 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. Call (956) 843-5311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations and more information.
Entertainment at the event includes schools, groups, city organizations such as school choirs, folkloricos, dance teams and more. Other entertainment includes Magic Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines, rock band The Switch, character performance shows, and more.
Each night will feature talented performers. Also included in the entertainment, and what has become a tradition, is the famous Estudiantina de San Luis Potosi, who come from San Luis Potosi, Mexico to perform. They will be performing December 12-16.
Entertainment will be throughout the month at the city hall courtyard starting at 7 p.m.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit their website online at hidalgofestivaloflights.com.