Pharr Community Theater presents, Tales of the Hidalgo Pumphouse.

“After all these years, there is something magical about the huge old building with it’s aluminum exterior, some of it brown from years of baking in the hot sun and from weather aging, sitting tall, strong and mysterious,” said Pedro Garcia who co-wrote the script, Tales of the Hidalgo Pumphouse, and is Artistic Director for the Pharr Community Theater Co. and Co-Producer. “The high, white concrete smoke stack that touches the clouds and the deep pits inside the building where huge and heavy Corliss and Hamilton engines rest on top of strong cement beds are still there, as well as the gigantic furnaces where mesquite wood was once burned to help create the steam that would pump millions of gallons of water from the Rio Grande every day for crop irrigation. I grew up in Hidalgo and I have fond memories of my childhood and coming of age around the Pumphouse with my friends.”

Lucio G. Rivera who co-wrote the story and also grew up in Hidalgo said, “My grandfather Bartolo worked there before I was born and my uncle Luis for nearly 50 years up until he retired when the old pump house shut down in 1983.”

Luis Rivera who worked at the Pumphouse for more then 50 years is a character in the play, played by Gustavo Saucedo, as well as his wife Paula, played by Atenea A. Garza, who once baked a small tortilla where the face of Jesus appeared. Another real life character in the play is Rufus Wisdom, played by Larry Weinreich, who was a long time foreman with nearly 40 years working at the Pumphouse.

“It was our public swimming pool and fishing hole of sorts,” added Rivera. “Water that was stored in the huge receiving basins before heading out through the canals became a fun place for swimming and fishing for me and the other boys growing up there, including the Wisdom family.”

The play tells of Luisito, played by Gilberto Castro, Jr., and his buddies as they come of age and search for a hidden treasure while the girls are writing a historical-report about the old Pumphouse and practicing an ancient dance in honor of the Rio Grande (River). The story is also about the parents and ancestors who worked and lived around the Pumphouse since it was built in 1909 and closed in 1983.

Today the old Pumphouse still stands in the same place and has become a Texas Historical marker and a Museum and World Birding Center open to the public.

The tale is laced with history, folktales and adventure including the creepy and sometimes funny fantasmas/spirits such as, La Llorona/The Weeping Woman, played by Rhiannon Garza, La Lechuza/The Witch Owl, played by Alma I. Izaguirre, La Muerte/Death, played by Francisco Crisanto, and El Hombre Sin Cabeza/The Headless Man, played by Sergio Luna. Together the youth and adults with help from a historian named Mrs. Stonewall, played by Connie Garza, and a magical Pirate named Hidalgo, played by Cielo Barrios, save the Old Pumphouse from destruction.

The story is bilingual, predominately told in English with nearly 23 local cast members, including ten adolescents, who have been in rehearsals since early June.

Director Seres Jaime Magaña who is a local poet and writer, from McAllen, TX, says directing a play is a fresh start for him in having to adapt a story into a visual form, “A lot of the approach is letting the story tell me where it wants to go and then me being able to show that and to translate it, Not only is it a historical and fun play for the whole family, it’s also got a lot of heart,” added Magaña.

Thirteen year old Arianna Compean from Edinburg, TX, plays Janie in the play and attends Barrientes Middle School. “I do theater because I listen to broadway tunes and it’s a dream for me to perform there one day. This play has helped me learn about the Rio Grande, about where you live and about remembering childhood stories.”

Later this year, authors Rivera and Garcia plan to publish the entire play in a book of the same name to share with everyone and in hopes that other theater companies and institutions may want to produce the play as well.

The Play opens August 22-26, 2018 at the Elva and Kieth Michal’s Performing Arts Center (Pharr Community Theater) at 213 W Newcombe Ave., Pharr, TX. The show runs Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $6 kids under 12; $8 seniors, veterans and students and $10 general admission. (Seating is limited to 60 persons per show)

For advanced tickets call 956-239-0412. Tickets will also be sold at the door, starting one hour before curtain upon availability. The show has a viewer rating equivalent to a PG movie.

H-E-B to Present McAllen’s 90th Annual Independence Day Celebration

Texas-based grocer will host, honor veterans and current serving military

With people making plans for the summer, the City of Mcallen is preparing for the 90th Annual Independence Day Celebration, this year, proudly presented by H-E-B.   The City of McAllen and H-E-B are proud to celebrate the nation’s birthday in one of the largest community events held in the city and together, to honor all veterans and current serving military for their service.


“H-E-B is proud to be the presenting sponsor of this year’s 90th Annual Independence Day Celebration,” said Linda Tovar, H-E-B Senior Manager of Public Affairs.  “We are honored to celebrate this Fourth of July with the City of McAllen, and to pay tribute to the many men and women of our military.”

Kicking it Off

The annual Independence Day Celebration will kick off with an early morning patriotic program, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Parade Grand Stand at Archer Park, 101 N. Main Street.  The 4th of July Main Street Parade begins at 9:00 a.m., heading north along Main Street, starting at Houston Street and concluding at Cedar Street at Archer Park. Freedom Festival, a family-friendly festival will be held at Archer Park immediately following the parade until 2:00 p.m.  Music, food, games and artisans will be some of the highlights of the event.

Make Waves & Stay Cool

For those who wish to celebrate the 4th of July by making waves, enjoy Aquatica Extreme at the Municipal Park Pool, 1921 N. Bicentennial Boulevard, from 1:00 p.m. through 4:00 p.m.  While this event does have an entry fee of $2.50 a person, there will be games, contests, crafts, music and more to help keep everyone entertained. Make sure to stick around for the Concert in the Sky Fireworks Extravaganza at Municipal Park, where games, food and entertainment pick up the celebration at 7:00p.m. and culminate with a sizzling fireworks musical display at 9:00 p.m. that enchants everyone in attendance.

Join the Festivities

The City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department is currently accepting entries for this year’s festivities. Businesses, civic and youth groups, and nonprofit organizations, and especially, veterans and veterans’ groups are invited to participate in the parade and other festivities. All entries should feature a patriotic theme.  The deadline to submit applications has been extended to Friday, June 22, at the McAllen Parks and Recreation Department, located at 100 S. Ware Rd.


The parade will be carried live on the McAllen Cable Network, now found on Spectrum Channel 1300, as well as on the City of McAllen website and Facebook Live.  Additionally, the fireworks show is set to music; listen to the patriotic line-up on KURV-AM.  For more information, please contact (956) 681-3333 or visit

What is a Converted Texan, anyway?

After working with Winter Texans for 10+ years, I’ve found that there are so many unique niche groups within the Winter-Texan market.  From golfers to quilters to 1st Responders to Red Hatters to singles, every time I turn around, I find a group of you who share similar interests.

My first year in the ‘business,’ a group of folks at Tip O’ Texas asked me to have dinner with them…in May.  I thought, aren’t you supposed to be home by then?  My curiosity was piqued, and I went on my first, of several, ‘Thirsty Thursday’ dinner outings.  I came to find out that many of our Winter Texans decide they really like it in South Texas and decide to call the Rio Grande Valley their permanent home.  Often times, our Converted Texans get lumped into the same boat as our Winter Texans, but even though they started out that way, they are the first to tell you they are NOT Winter Texans, that they live here permanently.

When you stop to think about the economic impact of our Winter Texans, it makes you stop to think about the impact our Converted Texans have on our community.  They shop here year round.  They support our schools, nonprofits, and churches.  They are involved in the community at a higher level than someone who might be here for just a month or two.  So I find it important–very important–to recognize these folks for all they do for us in the Rio Grande Valley.

We coined the phrase, ‘Converted Texan’ in 2010 to give these folks the recognition they deserve.  We’re taking it one step further this year and having our ‘not so annual’ Converted Texan Corral April 10 at Llano Grande Resort.  This is a party to celebrate this unique bunch and to hopefully entice some of our current Winter Texans to go through the ‘conversion’ process.  Oh, what fun we have planned! Leslie Blasing will be performing, lunch will be served, and we’ll even have a swearing-in ceremony to make their status ‘official.’  We’ll make them raise their right hand and pledge allegiance to all things Texan and issue official Converted-Texan certificates!

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a Converted Texan or not.  Just come and join the fun to celebrate this wonderful bunch.  Advance tickets only!  Please call 956-687-5115 to reserve yours today.

We’re just connecting the dots,


We’re on a first name basis

I also think it is great that not only do our badges reflect where we are, but also where we come from.  I like to look at the badges and see the silent story that they tell, and for me, badges are often conversation starters.
Over the last five years I’ve learned a lot about you, and the way you operate. For instance, each and every one of you is very different, you come from different areas and backgrounds, you have different interests, hobbies and there is simply no way to ‘categorize’ our Winter Texans.  You don’t all like to do the same things.  There are a few things that are pretty common across the board though, you all like warm weather in February, you enjoy life to the fullest, and you have a hard time remembering certain things.  Like last names, the day of the week, what you had for dinner and minor details.
I absolutely love when I visit a park and hear “hey Kristi” throughout the halls.  I was just at Texas Trails for the Bernie & Red fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s and so many of you greeted me by my first name, and I loved every minute of it.  I still use my last name (it’s Collier by the way), but I’d rather you spend your time remembering good times, good friends and great weather than last names.
I hope you’ll join me for our 3rd annual Welcome Home happy hour on Friday, February 22nd at the Mercedes Livestock Showgrounds from 1 – 4 pm.  We’re going to have a happy hour like none other with entertainment by Leslie Blasing, John Sager and Jeff Gordon!  Free admission and free parking, we’ll pass the hat, have beer, wine and setups available and we’d love to have you join us.   Bring your lawnchairs and celebrate the season with us, and we’ll have you home in time for dinner.
We’re just connecting the dots,

Let’s paint a picture

It never ceases to amaze me how many people are touched by this column and how many of them aren’t even Winter Texans. A friend recently told me she felt she had “a window to my soul.” (That can give a person writer’s block in a hurry.) I write from the heart and about what’s on my mind. Sometimes it relates to Winter Texans, and sometimes it doesn’t. Continue reading “Let’s paint a picture”

What’s next?

Believe it or not, this is Welcome Home RGV’s ninth season!  It’s because of the faith and support of so many people that we have been able to make it this far.  A lot has changed over the years. People have come and gone, and we’ve had great ideas, good ideas, bad ideas, and even a few downright terrible ones. But every day, we dust ourselves off, learn from our mistakes, and constantly try to improve our process.

It was February, 2008, when I had a vision, and that vision has become a reality.  It didn’t happen overnight, thank goodness.  We’ve learned the hard way and put in the sweat equity to prove it.  And that is what makes us better and stronger than we ever realized we could be.

What started out as a ‘little coupon book for Winter Texans’ has turned into so much more. We’ve grown by leaps and bounds–from adding an annual directory and a weekly newspaper to purchasing the Winter Texan Expo to hosting our own signature events and activities.  It does boggle the mind at times, yet somehow we all have managed to juggle it all.  But what keeps us grounded is that our vision is centered around one thing:  Winter Texans are such an integral part of our lives here in the Rio Grande Valley.

But that isn’t the exciting part.  I’m excited about what the future holds for our company, where we’ll grow from here, and where we’ll be ten years from now. The winter market is changing, that’s for sure, but we aren’t afraid of change.  We welcome it and will be there amidst it all to offer support, guidance, and solutions to those who need it and a lot of fun for everyone!

That vision in February 2008 was a gift, and we continue to be guided in the right direction. It’s our responsibility to watch, listen, learn, and adapt so we can keep this very important demographic protected.

I look so very forward to seeing all of your smiling faces this winter…and for many more to come!

Baby it’s HOT outside!

By this time, most of our Winter Texans have left the Rio Grande Valley, either to head off to your next adventure, to check on the farm, or to see those grandkids with whom the Valley just can’t compete.  Something tells me that those who haven’t left just yet will, as Tim Smith from KRGV Channel 5 is projecting a high of 103 Saturday.  (Sigh!)


And so it goes with life in the Rio Grande Valley.  We love our winters but shudder just thinking about June, July, and August.  In all honesty, though, I’d rather brave a South Texas summer than to try to live through another North Texas one (that’s why I only lasted in Dallas one year)!  The Valley may be hot, but the high humidity and proximity to the coast allow for ‘cool’ breezes throughout the day and into the evenings.  Yes, to some it might be called wind, but let this optimist see the glass as half full.  It’s one of the only things that gets me through the summer.


The summers are hard, there is no doubt, but I would rather sweat through the summer than have to shovel snow.  But I will say that as I get older and starting planning for the future, the thought of becoming a Winter Texan myself has crossed my mind a time or two.  Spending the summer months on a lake somewhere in Michigan sounds mighty fine to me!


Whether you are still here or up north, you are always in our thoughts.  We anxiously await your return and that touch of cooler weather you tend to bring with you.


We’re just connecting the dots,


The Winter Texan Whisperer

I’ve been told that I’m the Winter Texan whisperer.  I laughed when I first heard it; then I heard it again…and again…and again.  People always ask me how I do it – how I have the ability to connect with so many retirees from across the United States and Canada.  Well, to be honest, it’s not rocket science.  But there IS a secret ingredient.  You have to care.  And I do.  A LOT.  The truth is that I really, REALLY love them.  In order to have any strong relationship, you have to show you care.  I know that is what sets us apart from others who are ‘in the business.’

One thing’s for sure, I want prospective Winter Texans to know that they’ll be in good hands while they winter in South Texas.  And for those of you who are ‘seasoned’ Winter Texas or Converted Texans – you already know you’re about to have an amazing winter.  At Welcome Home RGV, we work tirelessly to keep you informed of what’s going on across the Rio Grande Valley and, in some cases, beyond!  We’ll not only keep you up to date, but we’ll be right there in the trenches with you, whether that be on a bike ride, at happy hour, at a craft show, or on the dance floor.  We might even try to beat you at a game of cards!

We truly look forward to spending the winter with you.  Safe travels to those of you who are on the road, and we’ll see you in South Texas real soon.

We’re just connecting the dots,


The Accidental Publisher

I have made investing in my education and networking with industry leaders a priority.  Over the course of my life with Welcome Home RGV, I have attended conferences, seminars, and conventions on topics ranging from social media strategies to the recreational vehicle industry, as a whole.

Much of the work we have done at Welcome Home RGV has been organic, stemming from seeing the demand for more and more of what we do and pushing ourselves to think outside the proverbial box and to improve each and every day.

I just returned from a conference in Austin for niche publishers.  What I found was that there is a need for a publications on just about everything you can think of.  From industry news to hobbyists, the potential to self-publish is out there.  What was interesting to me was that, at first, I felt so out of place.  With so many ‘real’ publishers at this conference, I felt silly calling myself a publisher.  As I interacted with others and got to know some of the conference attendees, I found that I am not alone – so many folks came into the publishing world quite by accident.  Going through the sessions on topics like content marketing, marketing automation, consultative selling, and media strategies made me realize how much we actually do; we just don’t call what we do by those ‘official names.’

I think what makes us successful at Welcome Home RGV is that we do what we love, do right, not only by our audience but also by our customer, and we package our passion into a variety of products, which creates an amazing company culture.

As I left the conference, I walked away with a long list of to-do’s and a whole lot of fresh ideas.  It will be exciting to see what the next year brings, and we can’t wait to take you along for the ride.

We’re just connecting the dots,


History repeating itself

I had the opportunity to be the guest speaker for the Tropic Star (Pharr) Canadian get-together.  There are a lot of Canadians at Tropic Star, the dinner was held at the Junction Café in Pharr, and we were literally bursting out of their private room.  I had such a lovely evening.  The group invited me join them for dinner, and we had the chance to visit prior to my presentation.
While I was speaking about life in the Rio Grande Valley and thanking our Canadians for choosing the Valley as their home away from home, I canvassed the crowd, and a thought crossed my mind.  I wonder who’s been here the longest and who’s been here the shortest length of time?  I was amazed that hands went up when I asked if anyone in the crowd had been coming down for 25 years or more!  Even more exciting was seeing the hands go up when I asked who’s here for the first time.I know many of you celebrate the folks who have been coming to the Valley for years and years – you can generally spot them in an instant as they have the dingle dangles hanging from their name badges to indicate how many seasons they’ve been here.  But what about the new folks?  How do you identify them in your parks?  I ask because I don’t know.  I do know that at some parks there are first-timer socials and the new people are asked to stand at park meetings, but it would serve us well to survey these folks–an exit survey, if you will.  Find out what they liked, what surprised them, and what didn’t exactly float their boats. After all, these newcomers are the future of our parks, and if history repeats itself, they will be the ones to spread the word about our “magic Rio Grande Valley.”  We need to celebrate them just as much as we need to continue honoring our long-timers.I’d love to hear from you about how you celebrate newcomers in your park.  I’d also like to hear directly from those of you who are new to the Winter Texan lifestyle – hear your thoughts on the Rio Grande Valley and your first experience with us.  Seeing our Valley from your fresh perspective will help us as a region in developing marketing strategies to attract more of you to visit our area.I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you, Ron Desrochers and all of the Canadians from Tropic Star for the lovely evening and paperweight with the maple leaf.  It is proudly displayed on my desk!  O Canada!We’re just connecting the dots,Kristi