Wreaths Across America is coming to the Harlingen area

The Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee in conjunction with the City of Harlingen, the Veterans Advisory Boards both from Harlingen and San Benito and several other partners is sponsoring this program.  Several neighboring communities are also participating such as La Feria, Los Indios and Weslaco while a few others are still pending.  This is a labor of love and an ongoing process in early stages.


While we appreciate that Mission has the Rio Grande Valley State Cemetery, many local Veterans are interred at our local cemeteries and we wanted to recognize them here.  Therefore, we have partnered with the Harlingen City Cemetery at F Street, Ashland, Heavenly Grace, Restlawn, Mont Meta, Highland Memorial Parks, SB City Cemetery and Las Rucias Cemetery in Los Indios.


Wreaths Across America is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National cemetery.  It began in 1992 when businessman Morrill Worcester had an abundance of wreaths and delivered them to Arlington.


Mission Statement:  REMEMBER the fallen

HONOR those who serve

TEACH our children the value of freedom


The Wreaths Across America’s mission – Remember – Honor – Teach is carried out in part by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. with thousands of other locations of which our Harlingen area is included in the LRGV chapter.  (Please refer to our LRGV surrounding area ID designation – TXHTSA in all correspondence).


To ensure no Veteran is forgotten…..  our efforts are to place a remembrance wreath on every Veteran’s grave.  We have a challenge here because our cemetery data does contain sufficient information on grave locations.  You can help us by submitting your Veteran’s name, rank, service, the local cemetery with grave location, row and number.


Our goal is to raise enough funds to place wreaths on the headstones of all the local heroes laid to rest here, to ensure that the individuals who served to protect the freedom of our country are never to be forgotten and to bring the community together in patriotic commemoration.


Volunteers are invited to assist.  Families, especially of interred Veterans are most cordially invited to participate.  Conversely, if your family chooses not to participate, please contact us.

Harlingen and San Benito, as of now, will be working towards collecting funds locally for the remembrance wreaths to be placed on Veterans graves in all the participating cemeteries.


Remembrance wreaths can be purchased for $15.00 each.  POC:  Lenore Combs 956 245 1276

LJCombs44@gmail.com   Sponsorships and optional donations towards this project will be appreciated and vigilantly managed.   Cut off day is Veterans Day – 11 November 2018.


Myharlingen.us/page/veterans.home     click on the link Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America.org/pages/150501/Overview/

Facebook http://Facebook.com/WAAHQ      (and local Facebook)


A word about the wreaths…  They are made up of 10 Balsam Bouquets representing the 10 Special Qualities that our Veterans embody:

Their FAITH in God, –  their LOVE for each other,  – their  STRENGTH, work ethic & character, – their  HONESTY & integrity, – their HUMILITY, self-respect, – their  AMBITION, aspirations, – their    OPTIMISM for America, – their CONCERN for their future, –  their PRIDE in their duties and their HOPES & DREAMS that didn’t always come true but left them with no regrets.


Each wreath is hand made with the hopes and dreams for the Veteran.  Evergreens are a symbol used for centuries, to recognize honor and are a living tribute of longevity and endurance.  The Red Bow represents great sacrifice, the fresh forest scent represents purity and simplicity and the circular shape represents eternity.


We want our friends and neighbors to see the tradition as a living memorial to Veterans and their families – whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  We believe that the sacrifices made are worth the effort.


Friends, neighbors, groups can go in on a multiple order.  Corporate or business may consider a generous order.  (a box contains 10 wreaths.)  Remember, our goal is to place a remembrance wreath on the grave of every Veteran.


Harlingen will have an Opening Ceremony at Veterans Memorial At Pendleton Park (1425 Morgan Blvd.) on Saturday the 15th of December at 11 am.  San Benito will be advertising their Ceremony program at their location.   The free event is open to all.  Organized volunteers will then proceed to their assigned participating cemetery for the Wreath-laying ceremony.  There may be other areas that have a similar program, such as Los Indios so, as a suggestion, stay vigilant for the program near you.


There will be an announcement for a volunteer orientation about the cemetery procedure and etiquette.  This is a combined effort.  Hold harmless agreements need to be discussed for those of us who are traveling to the cemeteries.  We are requesting volunteers for this project.

POC:  Lenore Combs  LJCombs44@gmail.com



*On Saturday the 15th of December  11 am

Harlingen will have a public ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial At Pendleton Park located on 1425 Morgan Boulevard, Harlingen to pay tribute to our Veterans and thank our volunteers.   It will be similar to our typical Memorial Day/Veteran’s Day program.  Seven specially designed ceremonial wreaths will be placed coordinating with Arlington National Cemetery and at many participating locations (Ft Sam and Corpus Christi) all across the United States.   The wreaths are specially designed for the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA.  Their significance is to REMEMBER those who served and gave all, HONOR their sacrifices and TEACH our younger generations about the cost of our freedoms.


San Benito is planning a Ceremony too at their location.  See their advertised information.


Following the ceremony, organized volunteers will depart to their designated (requested) cemetery with their assigned Cemetery Contact for the Wreath-laying experience.  A complete list of participating cemeteries will be available and we will set a time and date soon for public orientation at a convenient location.  All of this will be coordinated so stay tuned.


*The week of the 10th of December…..Many 18 wheelers leave Maine (where the trees are grown and the wreaths are made) carrying the wreaths to all the locations.  There will be an organized motorcycle club escort – a continuation of the World’s Longest Veterans Parade – Maine to Harlingen.  The Texas Law Dogs, South Texas Chapter will meet them at Corpus Christi and escort it to Harlingen.


We will receive notice of arrival in to Harlingen about the 10th of December. We also need volunteers to help unload our share of wreaths.  They will be delivered to Pendleton Park.  They are real evergreen wreaths prepared in a special way for our Veterans.  They measure 20” across, there are 10 in a box and the box weighs about 45 pounds.


Here presents another volunteer opportunity…..  Ultimately, the wreaths need to be stored for a few day and then get to their locations…..  Maybe some Harlingen businesses can assist with small truck and or trailers.  Plans are under construction.  We are awaiting a list of wreaths needed for each cemetery location.  We will have a Harlingen escort courtesy of the Texas law Dogs, South Texas Chapter to the cemeteries.


* Saturday 19 January 2019 – Last but not least is Wreaths-Out Day.

These wreaths are live evergreens.  Receptacles will be provided since the cemetery is not responsible for clean-up.   We will need volunteers for a few hours for this.


Volunteers are cordially welcome to participate in all the facets of this mission. – from unloading the wreaths to placing the remembrance wreath at the graveside and wreaths-out day. We will plan an orientation meeting.  Posters and Flyers will soon be available.   Contact me and I can send it via email.  LJCombs44@gmail.com



WAA Outreach:  There is also an outreach program just designed for our schools as part of a Leadership Program or associated school project.   WAA is committed to teaching younger generations about the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms.  WAA offers learning tools, interactive media projects and opportunities for schools, 4-H Clubs, Scouts and other youth groups to participate in these efforts.  A downloadable curriculum and books are available to help school children appreciate the roles our Veterans played in preserving their freedoms.  These materials are designed to encourage the direct involvement of local Veterans.

American History:  Wreaths Across America Unit (example)

This is an ongoing unit of study designed to have students develop a better understanding of the importance of Veterans in America’s history.  The WAA unit was started in 2006 to expand students and community education by putting Veterans together with children through the mission statement  Remember – Honor – Teach.  (I have participated in several of these).


May we recommend a search on the web for Wreaths Across America for the big picture and UTube has some great videos on Ft Sam Houston and Corpus Christi.  Hope to see Harlingen’s on it next year!


WAA maintains no political or religious agenda but rather a mission to remember and honor our veterans during the month of December.  At time of traditional family get-togethers this event provides a great learning opportunity to teach our children of the many sacrifices made by our military men and women.  Hope to see you.


WAA started as a simple gesture of thanks, that over the years has grown into a national movement of dedicated volunteers and communities coming together not only to remember the nations’ fallen and honor their service, but to teach the next generation about the sacrifices made for us to live freely.  This year there will be close to 1500 locations with over a million volunteers.  Harlingen is already on the map as a location.


For information:

Myharlingen.us/page/veterans.home     click on the link Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America.org/pages/150501/Overview/

Facebook http://Facebook.com/WAAHQ      (and local Facebook)

Fiesta de Palmas annouces Voladores De Papantla, a gravity-defying pole acrobatics performance group

The performance group is one of several cultural acts scheduled for next weekend’s event


MCALLEN, TEXAS, Sept. 14, 2018: Attendees of McAllen’s Inaugural Fiesta de Palmas will be treated to ‘The Danza de los Voladores,’ or the Dance of the Flyers, a centuries-old traditional Mexican dance. The dance is performed by indigenous groups of Mexico and other South American countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.


Formerly known as McAllen’s PalmFest, Fiesta de Palmas aims to promote an appreciation for international culture. In addition to performances by Voladores de Papantla, attendees will be treated to an exciting array of sights and sounds, courtesy of local and international music and dance acts. These include Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte, La Sonora Arrasadora, Los Cadetes de Linares de Rosendo Cantu and Estruendo. Tribute acts such as “Earth to Mars, a Bruno Mars Tribute, and Majesty of Rock, which offers the music of classic rock bands Journey and Styx, will also perform onstage throughout the weekend.  Over 100 performances are set to perform during this two-day event.


Fiesta de Palmas will celebrate European, Middle Eastern and Latin American influences. The festival, scheduled to take place September 22-23, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at McAllen Convention Center and McAllen Performing Arts Center,will offer the opportunity to sample a wide variety of delicious international cuisine. Attendees are also welcome to explore an on-site artisan market and other entertainment such as games, carnival rides, and beer garden for attendees 21 and over.


Tickets are only $5 and children under 12 enter free.


For more information about Fiesta de Palmas, please contact McAllen Convention Center at (956) 681-3800.

Zoo Hosts 6th Annual Brew at the Zoo

There’s something brewing at the Zoo and you won’t want to miss out! Raise your glasses for animal conservation at the 6th Annual Brew at the Zoo, hosted by the Gladys Porter Zoo and Brownsville BeerFest. Brew at the Zoo will be held on Thursday, September 20, 2018 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.


Ticketholders to this event will enjoy craft samples from some of Texas’ most popular breweries paired with food from restaurants from around the Valley. Restaurants will be competing for the People’s Choice Award, which guests will have the opportunity to vote for. Last year’s winner, El Amigo Seafood Restaurant, will be defending their title against several other restaurants.


Aside from the delicious food and drinks, this year’s guests will also be able to enjoy live music by Lost Puppies and The Reverie.  The 6th Annual Brew at the Zoo will also feature fun games, such as Jumbo Jenga and a Beer Pong Tournament.


A special thanks to L&F Distributors and all participating restaurants for helping to make this event possible.


Tickets are on sale now at the Gladys Porter Zoo office, Los Trevi Drive Thru locations and online at www.gpz.org.


Only 500 tickets will be sold for this exclusive event. Non-Zoo members can purchase tickets for $25 pre-sale and $30 on the day of the event. Zoo members will receive a discounted rate of $20 pre-sale and $25 on the day of the event. Guests are asked to keep in mind that this event is intended for ages 21+. For any questions, please call the Zoo at (956) 546-7187.

McAllen used to be my hometown.  Now it’s my city. 

Okay, maybe I am a bit biased, but my civic pride is seriously overflowing as I write this.  I’ve lived in McAllen for more than 40 years.  What I love most about our area is that we can feel part of a small, tight-knit community and then be instantly transported to being part of a bustling city, sometimes in a matter of mere minutes.  And no, I’m not talking about traffic.


Last Thursday, I experienced just that.  I worked a full day and had my fewer-than-five-minute commute home.  I just had time to freshen up, let the dogs out, and watch the evening news.  I freshened up, picked up a friend, and went to Les Misérables at the McAllen Performing Arts Center (MPAC).


As I drove up to the MPAC, I felt like I was transported from my hometown to a big city.  We saw so many friends in the lobby while we waited for the doors to open it was as if it was the social event of the year.  We were ushered into our seats, and as the lights dimmed, my breath was taken away.  The lights, the sounds, the production, the music!  I was mesmerized from the start and felt as if I was part of the cast. 


Throughout the show, I had to remind myself that it was all real, that I was in my hometown, my city.  To be able to experience the unbelievable performance of Les Misérables right here at home is something I will never forget. 


We’re just connecting the dots,



Les Misérables is making its McAllen debut this September 12-16, 2018 for seven performances at the McAllen Performing Arts Center. Tickets are on sale now and are available in-person at the McAllen Convention Center Box Office, over the phone at 800-745-3000, or online at Ticketmaster.com.


Kristi Collier is a McAllen native who loves to share her passion for the area with others.  Her company, Welcome Home RGV caters to the Winter & Converted Texan market through their events, activities, special interest publications and more.  For more information, call the Welcome Home RGV office at 956-687-5115, visit www.welcomehomergv.com or visit on facebook at facebook.com/whrgv and  facebook.com/wintertexan.

Powering through change

Sometimes you have to trim the trees in order to foster growth.  Life is like that at times.  That’s the way I feel at Welcome Home RGV.  We’re always changing and growing.  As soon as things get relatively “normal,” we add something new or decide to take the plunge with a challenging software package or a completely new  website design.  And sometimes we do it all at one time!


Last season saw a lot of change for us.  Entering the season, I was anxious (as I always am).  In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t know what was about to change, or I may have run away from home.  During our busiest time, which starts in October, we brought our coupon book back, started a promotional division, AND opened a travel agency.


It was a chaotic season, but it was also filled with excitement–a different kind of energy, a whole lot of moving things around, and the adventure of discovering our new normal.  We powered through the changes and utilized the slower summer months to adjust and to implement strategies  that would streamline and strengthen not only our new ventures but our current products and services, as well.


I never dreamed at this time last year we’d be where we are today.  Perhaps because the changes were such a natural addition for us, it really doesn’t seem like all that much has changed.  The exciting thing to me is wondering what opportunities will present themselves this season and where we’ll be at this time NEXT year.


A huge thank you to all of you who have had a hand in Welcome Home RGV.  From our staff,  working tirelessly to make the thoughts that flip through my mind come to life, to our followers, our ever-loyal customers, and our faithful volunteers–it’s because of you that we continue to grow, change, and thrive through it all.


We’re just connecting the dots,



Kristi Collier is a McAllen native who loves to share her passion for the area with others.  Her company, Welcome Home RGV caters to the Winter & Converted Texan market through their events, activities, special interest publications and more.  For more information, call the Welcome Home RGV office at 956-687-5115, visit www.welcomehomergv.com or visit on facebook at facebook.com/whrgv and  facebook.com/wintertexan.